The NBT Review 66

Close To The Sun – Jody Porter (Engine Room Recordings)

Power Pop can sometimes sway past joyfully, inconsequential bursts of flavor, enhancing for a fragment of your time, the journey of your day. Or (like this collection) it can be so damn well crafted with hooks and fun and exuberant vitality that you make this your soundtrack for tomorrow and the day after and way beyond.

You know those scenes in movies where the radio next to a sleeping figure clicks on and we hear some early morning jock introduce a vibrant tune and as the hero wakes up the credits start to roll? Well these songs, by some gratifying law, should be  the FIRST choice for the movie maker.

These are not just cool alternative bubblegum slices though, there are real stories mixed into their construction, taking the observational skill of a Ray Davies and perhaps mixing it with the wry quirkiness of a Jonathan Richman. While inspired by an American take on a very Brit feel for the kinda three minute chart song it was thought they simply didn’t make anymore, nothing here feels forced nostalgic or cynical retro.

What elevates this is the sheer playfulness and subtle departures from the normal, the giddy mystical dabs and even hint of a very modern new wave sheen, where the Beatles album tracks seduced a Nuggets era band, in a garage full of kids and colours.

Like Mathew Sweet’s best work this is instantly likable, it’s the sort of song and album you want on your mp3 player right away, its an experience you don’t have to talk to your friends about, just play and dance  and they will get it.

Hear more

You can hear tracks from this release on the NBT Podcast going out on the 27th May 2010


The NBT Review 65

Song Selection from 88 Kilos Of Sunshine

It is this writer’s prerogative to not name the songs, just play them in order from bottom to top and attempt to capture the illusion of understanding and the reality of this music’s allurement.

The instrumental starts it all. Hollywood played in an empty small town hall. The drums as willful steady as a drunk’s inconsolable rage the guitar is devious widescreen thoughtful. The Clean here is a wicked clean, a Neil Young solo tempered by intellect and latent horror. This is a tune Stretched between school boy yearning for the redemptive solo, and the modern detachment.

Then chant then confess swim in the warm bubbles of regret, this treated ocean this seductive call and wanting response. Don’t want to get lost in this?  I couldn’t, ‘’even if I tried.’’

As John Peel was known to say, ‘this one fades in slowly’’ this is warped Americana played in the old house across the road, you stop and listen on your way home and weep, and leave strangely enriched. The ragged reserve of the (treated) singing, the two personas within connects you to this drama, traces still there even as you lock your front door walk to the living room and switch on the babbling evening news.

Thank fuck for a modern pop maker whose idea of the 80s is darker than skewed memories of big hair and Duran Duran. I recall fragile 7 inch singles cased in cardboard two tone manifestos.

This song is a slow growl, scary and beautiful. That’s all that needs to be said except perhaps  listen to all the songs on the page and look for it. You will know it the second you hear it, and then your day will change slightly, no matter if you are sneaking time from office work, or surfing idle in your bedroom.

Another slow fade in, another capture of the minutia of a moment in time, this is subtle true alternative.

If you have lost your faith in the power of music to provoke and please, to entrance and edify, then this collection shall attempt to find it for you.

Go NOW and listen

You can hear tracks from the band on the NBT Podcast going out on the 27th May 2010

And this will be the featured artist on the NBT portal page in JUNE

Also check out a couple of tunes (if you use internet explorer) on the website (after the intro just Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page).

The NBT Review 64

Melancholy Waltz – Richie Lawrence (Big Book Records)

This is what music is meant to do. I am transported from a weak summer day, still losing its battle with should be long gone winter, to standup flying through the shadows and the heat and sleepy heaviness of somewhere deep in old America.

This is stripped down dreamtime, breathing slow, deep and moody.

When the vocals start (accompanied by seductive accordion) they are laid back but almost flirtatious, in ‘Danielle’ one gets the impression that even if the woman in question is angry enough to THINK about leaving, she is also charmed by the gentle nostalgia of the playing.

Within the title track, Lawrence blends the sad dramatic with a sense of liberation, this and the other songs are flickering ancient images of battles fought and, again, one is taken back to the feel of dreams, the hopefulness perhaps of the weary optimist.

These are songs that soothe the savage self pity of the barroom late night, in awe of the days past, in love with the possibilities of the here and now.

Magically Lawrence creates secular hymns crossed with just the right hint of music hall bawdiness. When there is regret it is gentle and when there is love it is profound and utterly moving.

This collection is an escape, played pure, from the heart.

Hear tracks and thoughts from Richie Lawrence about the album on the NBT Podcast of the 13th May

The NBT Review 63

Second Chances – Danika Holmes (independent release)

It is a brave thing to start a set of modern American country folk songs with a tale of loss and vulnerability,  but this brave thing  defines the music that follows, it states from the get go that this is a candid and original glimpse  of the those that survive, but still are fragile, human, even scared. In this opening the singers prayers are perhaps not answered but by the asking, she is, one feels, made stronger, strong enough to carry on.

The sultry percussive ‘Unlit Match’ carries on this theme, the singer, detached, watches the girl on the stage, deconstructs the rebel boy myth, and the music is an invitation to let go, take those dangerous chances and prove those who would box you into a cliché, totally wrong.

All is not internal though, in stand out track, the ballad ‘Annie May’ Holmes sings the life of a quietly extraordinary woman, sketching the passage of time and history with remarkable subtlety and grace.

Then in ‘Pockets Full Of Gold’ she brings it back to the intimate world of the couple, through faith and love in each other surviving the (harsher) world around them.  In fact all through this album, she commits her self to the belief that its ok to lean on those you trust, to show diary like the simple secrets of the soul.

This is a set that describes how the cold country of Alone, is left behind.

All this is tied together in the title track, the darkness has been preserved against, and the night is turning into day.  What I particularly like here is the admission that even in this brand new hope of a day the journey may still be tough and even third chances may be needed.

Yes this is mainstream music, but I find no concessions here, or cynical production tricks, no artifice.

That all these songs are wrapped in a perfectly balanced mix of the pop smooth and the country honest lets us know that her message will soon get into the hearts of radio listeners everywhere.

Listen here:

Hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 13th May

The NBT Review 62

Cheese People –Cheese People (Independent Release)

The Cheese People play squelchy messy oh so colourful bang-shang-a-lang party music for the soon to be Happycrazy.

They make dance music that giggles and pogos, a sort of sped up burlesque, noisy free melodic, their creations BOUNCE!

The vocals are quirky call and response things, strongly sexy, femme active, mischievous and sly all the boys in the room want to be led this dangerous shuffle, all the girls wanna learn the words and sing and strut along.

Even when slightly slower the tunes throb with disco bass and slinky twisted guitar lines, these people are fizz-pop naturals. Day-Glo Indie pop saviors from the greyest shadows.

Theirs is a cartoon funk, sometimes very 70s swirly ice-cream, often a NOW brash concoction shiver inducing bubblegum alternative. Their instrumentals leave you goofy wide eyed and breathless, their tunes demand you wake up and get ever so slightly warped.

The final track a remix of their feisty tune  ‘Ua-A-A!’ shows a path that could lead them into every daring nightclub in the world. And then we hear that their next collection will be acoustic! The adventure continues.

Open the door and step into their perilous celebration, LET GO

Go wild.

It’s worth it.

Cheese People is the featured album this month on the NBT Portal webpage

And are featured tooOn the Upcoming relaunch of the NBT Dark Electric Podcast on the 18th June 2010

Before that tho, they will be played on our flagship Podcast on the 27th May 2010