The NBT Review 47


Sheffield Streets   – Amy Allison (Urban Myth Recording Collective)

In this, the hardest thing is….

I must forget, ignore, her cult, her father, her partners, her history, the players, the craftsmen. I must disregard the many lines of text glowing from pc screens and smoldering on white paper press releases, and take the music the words the mood and the tension and write about that, forget the rest.

Her latest creation is like a cat that has not yet learned to purr, a cat that cannot fully relax, is coiled within its soul tight to the point of breaking, a cat who desires the comfort of love, of release, but the emotions the fears the memories do not allow it to reach that comfort yet. Which is wonderful for us, cause instead we are given these songs these gateways to this strange exquisite world.

She manages to make us nostalgic for places we have never been to, fall in love with ghosts of angels, and makes us want to kiss the totally WRONG type of person and flirt with those monsters we concoct in the mists of our fine delusions.

In many ways these are recipes for escape.

They are maps of dream worlds and sketches of broken hearts, scrawled pretty then crumpled up and thrown into the fire where they turn into jittering words that slide into tunes, which play gentle before us.

One of the albums of the year for me.

Listen to tracks from this album on this AND next weeks NBT podcast


The NBT Review 46

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Somewhere Up North – Meet Citizen K (Paraply Records)

Oh there is almost nothing as entrancing than the lonely sound of the trumpet played on the ocean’s (or river’s) edge. The sound sets the scene, the mood, gently takes hold of the emotions and readies us for a personal conversation with the artist.

The singer combines the delicate detachment of the European composer with the intimacy of the New Folk balladeer, sometimes within the same song we are taken from comfortable living rooms, just us and the man and his guitar, and swooped up, flying across vast expanses of territory, long silent roads and majestic mountains.

These are whispered tales of fragile yet dazzling relationships doing harmonic battle with an scratchy cinematic twitch and glare. There are hidden treasures in the details within the words and visceral arrangements. A rare delight is taken in the addition of a piano riff there, an organ twirl here, seductive spoonfuls of colour, dropped in, then mixed perfect, calm, till the result is a sigh and a dream.

This is one of those albums, that while you are listening to it, you want to start all over again as soon as possible, so that you can discover yet another thought, another texture, another revelation.

This independent beauty can be filed along side Grizzly Bear and The Low Anthem as one of the best folk/alt country releases this year.

Find out more here

And listen to tracks from this album on the NBT Podcast

Another Last Call – Doug Folkins (Independent Release)

There is something very Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds about this new collection from songwriter Folkins, something very good, very pure and very in love with good Pop.

The opening track (and single) Calico Girl drifts from the speakers in a breezy Beatles like harmonica, a subtle uncomplicated tune wrapped around lyrics that penetrate deeper into the psyche than realized.

Comparisons have been made to the folkpunk ‘n’ pop of the Pogues and indeed there is that barroom swagger and glee in a lot of the tracks, which added to the vibrancy of the Levellers at their best, let the tragic edges of human behavior colour murk and heart, light and shade to the bounciest of tunes.

And just when the old time pub songs threaten to get slightly too much for modern rock ears, Folkins craftily adds dollops of blues guitar and tiny tinges of modern Americana to his solid creations  making this a truly international sounding release.

Find out more here

And hear trax from this album on the NBT Podcast

The NBT Review 45


Detroit Rebellion – Deitroit Rebellion (Ramp Media Lab)

Stripped down straight into chug-a-lug modern blues, why modern? Its just bounce forward voice and guitar to start with sure (like passing a ragged old house and hearing the tail end of a CSN+Y acoustic jam), but the modern is in the heart, the atmosphere.

This is a soundtrack for long days of hard work and introspection, solitary journeys through the hours. A world of blurred roads and untrusting housewives peering from windows at you, trapped in the heat and your job and your thoughts.  And then..

 This music..

This simple strong stuff.

Saves you just a little.

These are stories that don’t always have a happy ending; sometimes the only redemption is in the telling, the sweet shrug and the moving on. Then again these are also stories that have a quirky wry sense of hope, a push, and a nudge, and a casual grin in the right direction.

Imagine the intricate moods and arrangements of the Violent Femmes early songs, condensed into this one guitar, this one singer, how strange it is that you find yourself wanting to dance silly crazy as if you are at some punk cowboy club.

There is subtle protest, more observation than angst, there is the slight take on the love song, detached but sincere and utterly captivating. There are possible confessions and there are secrets possibly revealed, but they are all wound tightly into the music.

For something so sparse, the rewards in listening to this are infinite.

A wonderful discovery.

Hear tracks and thoughts from this collection on the NBT podcast very soon