The NBTMusicRadio ”Essence Of The Song”

NBTMusicRadio once again presents the finest new independent creators of that strange difficult sweet thing we call the SONG. From the First thought birth, to the final note laid down in the studio, we asked a selection of artists about their craft.

Once again Featured Artists brought to you by the wonderful folks at Hemifran An independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden,The Artists they represent range from the USA’s finest Americana/Country/Rock outfits, to Europe’s most talented singer/songwriters, and EVERYTHING in between.

All these artists and the songs they talk about can be heard every day on the NBTMusicRadio: 9 AM AND 10 PM New York Time

3 PM and 4 AM Berlin Time 2 PM and 3 AM UK Time (Australia/New Zealand plus 6 or 9 Hours on Berlin Time)

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And now without any further Chatter here are the Artists.

My Darling Clementine

www.facebook.com/mydarlingclementine.music

NBTMusicRadio: On your website, you mention how Elvis Costello’s ‘Almost Blue’ Provided a gateway into understanding, and perhaps more importantly, starting to love country music. It had the same effect on me, I realised that there was more to this music than the syrup soaked clichés, AOR stereotypes that the normal indie kid would run miles to avoid. Do you hope that the music you make as My Darling Clementine will do the same thing for a new generation, or is 2012 a very different time, what with music mags and websites constantly championing Country and Alt/Country as the saviours of modern indie pop? ( I notice that, also on the website; you stress that this is not a ‘parody’ record, which would indicate that you feel Country is STILL not being taken seriously)

MDC: It would be nice if it did, and i would be delighted, but i think these days more younger fans are aware of more genres of music and younger kids often look back in time for inspiration. Maybe in our day it was about the ‚‘moment‘ what was happening ‚‘‘now‘‘ as it was all so exciting.

When I first started down this country road, the likes of Uncut and Mojo were not even aware of the alt country thing, Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks had just come out, and it was still a genre waiting for a title. These days those magazines champion Americana, and so you get someone like Ryan Adams with an audience of guys ranging from 20 year olds to guys in their 50s and 60s.

The Parody comment was really aimed at the UK, where Country Music maybe still has a bad rep amongst those who only just see the surface. Lou and I are deadly serious about these songs and how we went about trying to re-create the sound and feel of those great country duet albums from the late 60s/early 70s. That said we are having a bit of fun with the look and the imagery, enjoying wearing the polyester!

NBTMusicRadio: You describe ‘ How Do You Plead’ as a collection of songs about ‘love, separation, bitterness and acrimony.’ In country music, the duet, specially the male/female duet has always been the perfect setting to create these themes. Why do you think this is?

MDC:  I guess it appeals to the voyeur in us all, the part of us that turns the TV down when we  gear a row going on nextdoorm so that we can eavesdrop on what they are shouting about.

Also a man and a woman singing to eachother is a very powerful emotional thing, more so, I think, than just singing out to an audience. Ot is a musical conversation, and as we all know, conversations can be polite, loving or often even angry and bitter, or just down right rude! Lou and I are perfecting the latter all the time.

Victor Camozzi

http://www.myspace.com/victorcamozzi

NBTMusicRadio: The title track of your new album ”Roadside Paradise” seems almost to be a lament for a not very polished past, can you tell us how this song came to be written

Victor: It’s a lament. It’s also a love letter. You stumble around for enough years and you start to realize it’s your warts that make you what you are, not your so called “strengths.” Somewhere along the line I figured out that imperfection is far more interesting to me than perfection. That’s true in a lot of ways. Take the people I talk to in bars wherever I go (Christ, I’m a veritable addict of barstool conversation)—my philosophy is that the dude with perfect teeth and a perfect job and the right brand of shirt can go fuck himself. I’d much rather meet the three time divorcee staring down another busted romance and wondering where it all went wrong. There is something honestly human in that. Beautiful in it’s falability. As for the origins of the song “Roadside Paradise”, I can’t tell you where it all came from, but I can tell you where it began. There is an old 24 hour diner not so far from my house in Austin. Once upon a time, it used to be a truckstop. But the town has grown up around it. Still, in the wee hours, when I’m there far more often than I should be, it attracts that uniquely American cast of drifters and underground highway ramblers, the cast offs and coulda beens, and it was there sitting in one of those old vinyl booths…thinking about the countless joints just like it that have always felt like home to me….that the first words began to tumble out on my napkin (penned in left over crayon if I recall). There’s something about a joint that can serve you chicken fried steak, scrambled eggs and gravy at 4:15am that just moves me in ways both idiotic and divine.

 NBTMusicRadio: The album has a big bar room band sound with more than a touch of bravado and sadness mixed with a hint of devil may care humour, yet its just the two musicians driving the tracks,what prompted you to use just yourself and Matt Downs, and what differences arise when recording like this as opposed to a full band.

Victor: Matt and I go way back. Waaaaaaay back. Back before I ever even got the balls to perform my songs in front of anyone other than my cat Picasso (RIP). Matt and I were buddies. Buddies who shared a similar vibe and a similar taste in music. Aside from being a damn musical genius, he was just a close friend. So early on he was the guy I played my songs for when I was starting out. For my first album, that evolved into us laying down some basic tracks, which I then took to Bill Small and Walt Wilkins and produced into “3 Peso Cigar” with a full band. But for the second album–“Roadside Paradise”–Matt and I got to messing around with some early tracks, and at some point he just looked at me after a couple whiskeys and said “Y’know…I think I might like to see this one through.” And that was enough for me. Matt gets what I’m going for…sonically and cosmically. It doesn’t take a lot of words. A couple hand gestures, a belch and a fart, and he’s nodding his head, good to go. I could add more musicians…and for the next album we may bring in a couple folks here in there…but adding too many cooks just creates more people I have to explain to. I’m just lazy enough (and smart enough) to lean on the musical telepathy Matt and I share and not question the good thing that I’ve found.

I See Hawks In La

http://www.iseehawks.com/

NBTMusicRadio: Dear Flash was inspired by a novel, ‘Divine Right’s Trip’ by Gurney Norman, How did that come about ? and how hard is it to install the essence of a novel into a four minute song?

ISHILA( Paul Lacques): The Whole Earth Catalog was a big part of my life when I was 17 years old, back in the1970s. The hippie movement in the U.S. had fled for the countryside, lots of small farmsand communes starting up in every state, and I wanted to be a part of that. The Catalogwas a compendium of farming/survivalist knowledge, everything from home birthing to geodesic dome making to hunting and composting. We recently found a copy of the 1974 Last Whole EarthCatalog, and Rob and I got immersed in Gurney Norman’s serialized novel “Divine Right’s Trip,” which appeared every few pages throughout the catalog. Gurney’s a fine writer, captures some very dark contradictions deep in the hippie/gypsy lifestyle, and we are pleased to have contacted him and made his acquaintance. He likes our music, which is quite a thrill for us.

“Dear Flash” is an imagined letter 40 years later, from protagonist Divine Right (DR), a kindof everyman hippie, to the cooler and more together Anaheim Flash, whom we imagine as having some idyllic mountain farm. DR has lived all the conflicts of the 60s onward, and wants to rest and grow a garden.

NBTMusicRadio: the cover of the album is either sunset or sunrise, though the underlying mood on a lot of the songs is a end of day weariness, acceptance, lament, very similar in mood to Springsteen’s Nebraska, (emotionally of course if not musically), there are exceptions, but what was it in the writing and conception that made this album in particular such a ”sunset/sunrise” record?

ISHILA( Paul Lacques): You’re right on all counts! We got lucky with the lighting, did the photo at sunset underbrooding skies, and it poured rain on us as soon as we were done. A beautiful afternoon.

The mood of the album is definitely one of battered souls accepting life as it is, a bit stripped of our activist/political stance of past recordings. It’s just where we’re at today, writing what’s on our minds, like all of our albums. Our previous songs were very influenced, willingly or not, by the darkness of the Bush administration and our urge to fight,however hopeless that fight might be.

“New Kind Of Lonely” is certainly the sunset to that era, with the irony that the Obama administration is a carbon copy of Bush, with perhaps an added layer of deceit and false promises.

So in a way we’ve thrown up our hands, given up on the American people and the fate of America, and are trying to live our lives as peacefully (and low carbon) as we can.

The preaching era is over for us, at least for the moment. The songs are far more personal,are actually about our own lives in some intimate detail, and that’s a big change for us.It is a sunrise of sorts. I’m not sure what the new day is, but it feels different. We feel great personal hope, but our apocalyptic views of the future are unfortunately intact.

Tom Rodwell

http://www.tomrodwell.com/

NBTMusicRadio: The album is recorded with no effects, edits or overdubs, would you call yourself a musical ‘purist’ or would you be absolutely horrified by that description?

Tom: Well on one hand, no I’m not a purist, since I like to blend and change my source material and influences, and I consciously experiment and improvise with the structure of the songs I work with. It all melts together into my own language of sorts – so it’s more like a raw and personal “style” than a collection of tunes.

But that in itself is quite a purist idea really. I’m a fan of the blues players who were a law unto themselves – like Skip James, Albert Collins and Fred McDowell. Each had their own unique characters, even if their songs could at first glance be drawn from the same well as another musician’s. Which goes to show that really blues is communal music that no-one owns, where inflection and interpretation – art – matters more than ‘skill’ or braggadocio. Look at Lightnin‘ Hopkins or John Lee Hooker – on the surface quite similar players, but with utterly different temperaments and ways of seeing, and utterly different lives. I only hope to be purist in the sense of trying to continue developing my own musical language, and follow my nose and be honest with myself. That’s all you can hope for.

 NBTMusicRadio: On the website you speak about the Blues as a dance form, does this come naturally from the traditional lyrics’ rhythm or does it only become obvious once the guitar and percussion is attached, and how does this affect how you approach the creation of a song?

Tom: The music comes first mostly; I typically start a song from a brief, blunt musical accent, and then think of what to sing on top of it. But sometimes the lyrics do suggest a phrasing, and it’s fun to experiment with it all. What happens if you take a lyric that conventionally works in a shuffle atmosphere, but lay it over a reggae-dancehall rhythm instead?

Tempo is important too – and because my right foot taps out the rhythm to all my songs, it has to start from there. So the feet lead the head! I’m always trying to get people to move to this music – surely that is what it is for, this feeling of warmth leading you out of the darkness. Plus if women dance, then men dance, then people buy beer and then musicians get paid.

 HungryTown

http://hungrytown.net/

 NBTMusicRadio: A few of the songs on the album are triggered by events within the world at large, A volcano’s Eruption, Moving into an old house and so on, but then the themes are pointed inward, become an exposure of the ‘internal’ as it were (The Title track could be about the inactivity of depression for example) and this mix is rather wonderful, so my question (‘at last!’ I hear you sigh) how do you create these personal miniatures, is it a long process of introspection, or does this balance come without thought.

HungryTown: Every song requires a slightly different approach, and I often experiment to find the one that works best. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I like to tell stories from the first person perspective. My characters tend to be fictional, but I use my own experience and perceptions in a way that might make those characters and stories more believable

Our songs usually begin with an idea—a tale we’d like to tell, or an event that we want to relate. Ken often comes up with these ideas.

 After that, I try to find the right perspective. This can sometimes happen quickly, but it may take months. I’ve always been intrigued by the year 1816—a volcanic eruption the year before created a thin layer of ash that encircled the globe. Enough light was blocked so that the temperature in some northern regions experienced winter conditions the following summer. At first, I envisioned a narrative poem set to music.

 I tried writing in the third person, but the result felt detached and academic. I couldn’t imagine myself singing such a song. At some point, I decided to turn away from delivering a history lecture, and instead made 1816 a setting for a fable. I told a story from the viewpoint of a pregnant young girl, who is promised marriage by her lover in a spring that never arrives. Once I got this idea, “Year Without A Summer” seemed to write itself, and the resulting lyrics were more fluid and much more natural to sing.

The process was similar with the song, “Any Forgotten Thing.” Ken came up with the title, and the idea of using an old house as a metaphor for loneliness. I really liked this idea, but couldn’t get a grasp on how to make it into a song, especially one to which others could relate. To this end, I tried to be loose with the metaphor, to leave plenty of room for listener interpretation. I waited a while, hoping for the right images to appear.

Eventually I began to picture a person’s hands becoming unreliable–maybe because they shake, or they’re arthritic, or whatever. I liked the idea of the body breaking down, like any old machine. So that was the first verse. For the second, it seemed important to incorporate time and solitude. For the person in the song, there’s no point trying to keep up with the clock, so why bother winding it?

 My favorite part of this song to write was the subject thinking about replacing the doorbell, if only to hear it ring once again. This image seemed to fit, and to show–hopefully in a subtle way–how much time has passed since this person has had a visitor. For the last verse, I wanted to deal with the issue of regret, because it seems as though that might be connected with loneliness. And I got the image of someone examining their memories or themselves the way one might rummage through old items tossed into an attic, trying separate the treasures from the trash. Finally, I wanted to suggest the possibility that this period of loneliness is only temporary–an in-between time that allows for self-reflection.

 NBTMusicRadio: I believe Ken worked on the Rebecca ‘solo’ recordings as well, so to both of you; what is the fundamental difference between those and Hungrytown?
HungryTown: The fundamental difference between the Rebecca Hall and Hungrytown recordings is basically the passage of time–performing and recording as a duo is something that happenedgradually for us. When we met in NYC many years ago, Ken was a rock drummer in about seven different bands and I was singing torch songs in Soho bars. I was not writing songs at all at that time, just learning to perform and do my own interpretation of standards.

Then, inspired by the 1997 re-issue of the Harry Smith Folk Anthology, I picked up a guitar for the first time and began to write songs based on traditional ballads.
My first album, Rebecca Hall Sings!, was recorded very simply on a Tascam 4-track. The songs were coming so quickly for me at that time, and I was just trying to get them down.Ken helped me with some basic arrangements, and wrote all the harmony parts. We were very casual about this recording; it was something we just did for ourselves, so we were surprised when a local radio station, WFMU, got hold of a copy and started playing it
regularly. That was really encouraging, and we started work on my second solo album,Sunday Afternoon, very shortly afterwards.

This time, Ken was even more involved, he wasresponsible for all the arrangements and production, and we co-wrote a few of those songs.By that time, I was performing regularly with various New York City musician friends–my lineup was basically whoever could get to the gig that week. And Ken would come up on
stage and play harmonica sometimes, and would sing harmonies with me. Once we had a gig booked, but all my usual band members were out of town, so Ken and I just decided to dothe gig by ourselves.

We realized that we really liked this new, stripped-down approach.We began performing as a duo, traveling to gigs all around New England. We both still had day jobs at that point, but we were so unhappy at work, and so contented when we were playing music, that we just decided to see if we could make a living by touring. So in late 2003 we quit NYC, and moved to the hills of Vermont–a great place to write and record, and much more affordable than Manhattan!

We were still performing under the rather ungainly name “Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson,” and realized that we needed a band name for ourselves. At around that point, we had just finished writing a song called Hungrytown Road–a country waltz inspired by a real road in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia–that seemed to be popular at our shows. One day Kensaid, “why don’t we just call ourselves Hungrytown?” and the name just stuck. Very soon
afterwards we began work on our eponymously titled debut album. Hungrytown took about three years to record, and featured several guest musicians–excellent bluegrass pickers The Virginia Ramblers, as well as our friends Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar from The Mammals. We had so much fun making that album, and the mobile recording method really reflected our travels during that time. It was recorded at various locations along the
east coast–a double-wide trailer in Virginia, a home studio in the Catskills and a traditional New England meeting house.

A few years of almost non-stop touring went by, and we wrote many songs while we were on the road. Finally, in 2010 we realized we were ready to make a new album. We took a two-month break from performing, and this time around decided to do the whole thing byourselves, in our home studio. We co-wrote many of the songs for Any Forgotten Thing, and Ken wrote all the arrangements and played multiple instruments on these recordings. We
brought in our talented neighbor, Laura Molinelli, to sing backing vocals on a few tracks, but otherwise, it’s just us. We wanted this album, more than any other, to reflect our sound as a duo, and were very pleased with the result.

Oh My Darling

http://www.ohmydarling.ca/

NBTMusicRadio: Although your album is titled ‘’Sweet Nostalgia’’ and the music you make is steeped in tradition, the listener never feels that your album is a museum piece, there is something reassuringly modern in the feel.  Could you explain how this ‘’essence’ of 2012 onwards slips into your music, and what modern acts thrill the ladies of OMD

Oh My Darling : We all have a true love for traditional sounds and songs, whether they are Old-Time Appalachian, Franco-Canadian Métis, Bluegrass, Irish traditional or classic country, we find our common ground in the love of the traditional sounds. But we all are very inspired by what is going on in the music scene on the current stage as well. We find ourselves inspired by amazing groups like The Punch Brothers, Joy Kills Sorrow, Andrew Bird, The Goat Rodeo Sessions and modern songwriting styles, anything that is pushing the boundaries within this genre. We are inspired by the traditional sounds and put elements of that into our sound but we love to create new rhythms, chord progressions, lyrical and melodic styles that may be unorthodox to the hardcore traditionalists, we like the blend of something old and something new

NBTMusicRadio: While the music is indeed sweet, the lyrics hint at darker themes at times, illicit affairs, love and betrayal, escaping the city and so on, was this something that only cropped up in this album or is the balance tween dark and light a very necessary thing for a perfect album.

Oh My Darling: When we were looking at the collection of songs that we had for Sweet Nostalgia, there was an underlying theme of nostalgia that ran through all of the songs. Nostalgia can hold many sentiments, love, loss, hope, despair, sadness, joy… We weren’t looking to write songs that had particularly dark or light sentiments, we just wrote. As the songs came together the feeling of nostalgia pulled all the songs together. The presence and balance of dark and light belong to us within the songs and on the album but also the feelings of sweetness and beauty of reflecting on the past

Marty Rivers

http://www.martyrivers.com/

NBTMusicRadio: The album was recorded in Nashville; do you think it’s important to go to the ‘source’ as it were when recording a country music album or could just as fine album be created in Malta for instance?

Marty: Although I believe that a fine album can be produced almost anywhere but to bring together in one place such a wonderful group of top ‘country music’ session musicians together with such a producer like Gary Carter is very hard unless I’ll bring them all over to Malta; even still, Nashville itself is a source of inspiration to any musician or songwriter so even though it will be interesting to records my next project here on the island but Nashville surely is The Place.

NBTMusicRadio: In the Song Run Angel Run are you writing about any city in particular when you call it ‘this damn Babylon’?

Marty: Well, the City in mind was ‘L.A.’; many young people’s dreams are being shattered there; They go to Babylon with just a dream and so many of them end up living in the street; but in reality Babylon can be New York, London or any other big city or even Nashville; it’s great to see so many people living their dream but sometimes it’s also painful to see where so many of them can end up when they trust the wrong people

Nico Wayne Toussaint

http://www.wix.com/nicowaynetoussaint/lonelynumber

NBTMusicRadio: There is an unhurried languid feel about the songs on the album, were the recording sessions as calm and comfortable as this suggests?

Nico: The recording sessions were done in Montreal, Canada. The sound engineer / producer / drummer Nicky Estor is a long time friend, such as the guitar player. That session was like old friends getting back together. So it was efficient but without the pressure. Another element for your answer is that Nicky Estor comes from a New Orleans musical background, as well as blues. He loves music like Keb Mo’ or G Love and the Special Sauce. That kind of influences show also in his way to handle the mix and the overall approach of the production

NBTMusicRadio: Guy Davis contributes a stunning bluesy vocal on ‘How Long To Heal’ can you tell us how this recording came about?

Nico: My encounter with Guy happened in my home town, Bayonne, France, were Guy came to do a show, 5 days before i was flying to Montreal to cut my album. We played together that evening and his manager mentioned that it would be a great idea to have Guy on the album, since we were going to be so close one and the other, Guy lives in NY. I had only one song I wanted to play acoustic on the CD and that was ‘’How Long To Heal’’. It couldn’t be a better song for Guy and me to meet.

Brock Zeman

http://www.brockzeman.com/

NBTMusicRadio: The track, ‘Light in the Attic’ from a lyrical point of view has a cool and interesting structure, in that although it’s about the ‘traditional’ song theme of Break UP, it focuses rather on observing life AROUND it rather. How did the creation of this song come about?

Brock: That song was written all in one shot on my porch. I just picked everything out of the air as it fell into place. I like to put a lot of my surroundings and experiences into my songs. If you’re honest about what you do, what you do will always sound new.

NBTMusicRadio: How do you balance running a label and the fine focus that a new album insists on, and will you get some Mud Records artists to us to play on NBTMusicRadio ?

Brock: I like being in the studio as much as possible. Having a label gives me the chance to do that. People have given all of our releases some great praise, so we just keep doing what we do. I tend to lean on the side of music I’m getting the most response from. Sometimes it’s playing live, sometimes it’s writing and recording. I bounce back and forth and it somehow works.
Love to send you all the releases! Robert Larisey, Brothers Through The Hill & Tom House!

Elisabeth Carlisle

http://www.glacierrecords.com/

NBTMusicRadio: Songs like 6000 Miles have a lovely widescreen, cinematic feel to the way they flow, yet feel unforced and not over dramatic. How do you as a songwriter maintain that balance tween, a personal theme, and being detached enough to craft a tune that all of us can relate to?

Elisabeth:If you listen to my first 2 CDs you’ll discover that I primarily write from experiences, whether they’re my own or someone else’s. I can get pretty detailed in those descriptions, as I did in 6000 Miles. I think every songwriter that has spent a fair amount of time touring has a song about “coming home” or being away from those we love. I actually have a song called “Coming Home” on my Roll With the Flow CD! When it came to production the verses seemed to be more reflective and in thought, with the chorus popping out in more desperation. I love the band Train and feel that my production history is very similar to theirs. It must be that we’re both from the Bay Area and have grown up on the same style of music such as Journey, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, etc. So I think that the emotional energy that Bay Area bands have always produced comes out in me on a song like 6000 Miles.

NBTMusicRadio: for the EP, two songs were recorded in Sweden and two in California, to YOU when you have the finished songs what is the major difference in how the songs sound? (For example with the Swedish productions I found that delightful POP sensibility sneaking its way into the tracks)

Elisabeth: It’s not uncommon to have different producers on a CD. The trick is trying to keep a thread of consistency throughout the songs so they flow well together. For me that has always been my voice and keeping the keyboard prominent, which is my main instrument other than my voice. My first CD had 3 producers, with me as co-producer and had a “live” band feel throughout. For my second CD I wanted to have one producer with me and focus on a coherent style for each song. I also felt I was dangerously teetering on becoming too “Folk Rock” with my Northern California roots. I had been working in Sweden as a pianist and loved the “Pop” sound that many Swedish artists have. I thought that if I could combine those two elements of Folk Rock and Pop I’d have a true representation of me as an artist. My friend led me to Amir Aly at Yla (pronounced oo-la) Studios in Malmo where I ended up recording Roll With The Flow. I had moved back to California when writing for the EP, so time and distance only allotted for the two songs to be recorded in Malmo with Amir and my original band from Sweden. For me, it just doesn’t get better than that.

 Kenny Schick produced the last two songs and did a great job. He’s also from the Bay Area so they definitely swing more towards that original “Folk Rock” I was talking about. The major difference is that Amir does a lot more layering and looping, which brings a fullness and energy to the songs. I actually wanted Call Me A Mystery to be full on electronica, but my drummer Mattias wouldn’t have it. That’s where working with excellent musicians can help keep the balance. Of course, he was right in the end and the songs came out exactly as they should be.

 Kyle Carey

http://www.kyleannecarey.com/

NBTMusicRadio: from a lyrical point of view how difficult is the creation of a song, do the words just slip in themselves like old friends, or do they have to be coaxed into the structure of the tune?

Kyle: Lyrically every song is different, and the writing process is something I never try to push too hard. Some songs come very quickly, for example I wrote ‘Orange Blossom’ during my sophomore year of college. I remember I’d just returned home from a party where I’d felt very out of place and alone. I figured I might as well do something with the emotions charging through me so I sat down and ‘Orange Blossom’ came to me in a span of about ten minutes. On the other hand, ‘Adenine’ took about a week to write, and most of my other songs at least a couple days. I’m working on a song at the moment I think could take up to a month. When I’m writing I try to take breaks, and if I’m struggling for the right word or rhyme, I just let the idea sit for a while, and like clockwork, it eventually comes.

NBTMusicRadio: You describe your music as ‘’Gaelic Americana’’ when  the songs are still in demo form, do they veer to one aspect of this over another, or are the nuances of both those styles added subtly in the studio?

Kyle: Most of my originals are stylistically Americana in terms of their subject matter. The Gaelic/Celtic side of what I do comes from a background of having studied Scottish Gaelic and having lived in places like Cape Breton, Ireland and Scotland. The more Celtic influences found in my album are due to the fact that it was recorded in Ireland and produced by Donogh Hennessy, with mostly Celtic artists in the collaboration. So while the music started off as almost straight Americana, the other influences were added primarily in-studio.

I think Donogh and I balanced each other well during the creation process, for example ‘Gaol ise Gaol i’ the one Gaelic track on the album, is where his Celtic expertise really shines, and he was certainly at the forefront for the vision of the song’s arrangement. However, when the song was nearly complete, I worried that it lacked the Americana influence that it the main theme of the album, so I suggested we throw in a banjo part, and surprisingly, it fit great!

Tom Kell

http://www.tomkell.com/

NBTMusicRadio: ‘This Desert City’ marks a return to the studio after a lengthy absence , How easy was it to slip back into the ‘habit’ as it were, and what was the same and what was different  compared to past sessions, technically and personally?

Tom: Recording has really never been a “rare” occurrence for me.
While “This Desert City” does indeed mark my return to the radio, I’ve always been recording something it seems. I did a few “Gospel” records over the past few years and am constantly doing “publishing” demos of my songs. I write almost every day, so there’s always something to record.
The beauty of the “This Desert City” sessions was that I once again got to record with some amazing musician friends I’ve made over the years in LA. There just is no better band for my kind of songwriting. Every player and singer on that record was a perfect choice. They happened to be friends of mine too, which made the experience all the better. This project also marked the return of my collaboration with producer Jeffery Cox.

NBTMusicRadio: The track, ‘’The Way Of The World’’ is a gentle bitter sweet take on fame that twists half way through to become a much darker thing, can you tell us more about the writing and creation on this song?

Tom: “The Way of The World” is really just a compilation of the many stories I’ve read about or seen happen while living in Los Angeles for all these years. The next “big” thing is celebrated then discarded day after day, time after time. “She was a French girl, she came to LA for the heat” is the opening line. The rest was easy. It’s a story of fame, lust and envy, with the darkest of endings. I’m pretty sure I must’ve read about the shooting in The LA Times but don’t recall for sure.

West Of Eden

http://www.westofeden.com/

NBTMusicRadio:  the creative and recording process of this fine album is fascinating! Did these periods of isolation (the ‘Plura’ and recording at a remote coastal location, PLUS the tragic subject matter), affect the musicians mood in any negative way, after all on the surface of it; this is all rather dark stuff!

West Of Eden: Of course it had an impact on us. This is after all rather serious and tragic tales, but I wouldn’t say that it affected us personally in a negative way. I think that it made us work harder than ever before to create an ambience in the songwriting and recording that would suit the subject of each song.

NBTMusicRadio: on Songs like ‘Coffin Ship’ i was intrigued by the fact that there was a country/Americana feel to the music, how did this come about?

West Of Eden: I would say that the Celtic music and the Americana / country-music have a strong connection. In our part of the world (Scandinavia) we hear more of American music such as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams than Celtic music on the radio, so it‘s no wonder that there could be some influences in our music. That said, I think a song like Coffin Ship also has a strong connection to the music of The Waterboys which was a heavy influence on us when we started West of Eden 15 year ago

Katrin

http://www.katrinmusic.com/

NBTMusicRadio:“Blame” is very Gospel in feel, a soulful requiem of sorts, did that sound spring from the subject matter, or was that something that happened in the studio?

Katrin: I wrote and previously recorded “Blame” in a more acoustic, stripped down way. The melody and lyrics have always been the foundation of the song. With the opportunity to revisit the song, and the atmosphere we had to record in ( a renovated church called Dreamland) That MUST have been an influence to the gospel comparison you speak of, but also, the musicians especially Daniel Weiss on organ made for a whole new vibe on this recording. Then there is the way that I have evolved as a singer, and there has been a deepening and a passage that I have experienced. I guess can attribute that to time, perseverance, and life kicking me in the ass. I keep coming back stronger

NBTMusicRadio: Songs like ‘ Far Away’ are pretty layered lyrically, both emotional and story driven, how long do you ‘live’ with a piece, before you take it to the next level of Musicians and the studio, and once there do you sometimes find that the process takes them into completely new directions or do they stay as close to your original concept as possible?

Katrin: All the musicians helped me take this song and make it into more. They rocked it where it called for it, and brought the intimacy in the lyrically vulnerable moments. Jerry Marotta produced this song and it was one of the first tracks we started with in the studio. I wrote part of “Far Away” a long time ago and decided to put it in the junk yard and scrap it for parts. It was either that or put it in the song cemetery. (A Scary place!)

That is when the chorus came to me “Got a minivan, parked right outside. Got a full tank, I could take a ride” and I thought about the person I was when I began writing the original tune. Stuck, and torn in a relationship I needed to leave.

It wasn’t long after the new chorus came, that the song was fully arranged and ready for musician’s input and some pre-production rehearsals.

There are so many ways songs journey to their fruition. This one was particularly long, but that’s what it needed I guess. It was worth the wait and to have the courage to allow the evolution to happen.

Don’t Forget

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SXSW Diary

We here at NBTMusic are extremly honoured to have Tokyo Rosenthal write about the great SXSW Festival for us:

 

Sometimes it’s easier to play the gig then to get to the gig. This was the situation as I tried to get to Austin for my first show at SXSW. I originally had booked a flight on Friday March 16th not yet knowing I was going to be asked to play the prestigious Music Fog live feed from the world famous music venue, Threadgills. So now I had a flite that arrived at 4pm and a 7pm gig at Threadgills. Could it be done. I had connecting flights so one little delay and the coveted showcase was out the window. Of course I tried to change the flight but change fees made it economically impossible.

 

I arrived at Raleigh airport to find my first flight was delayed 20 minute. Instead of thinking about my set list I was thinking of how I would explain to the Music Fog Execs why I wasn’t there to play. But rather then drag this out I’ll tell you all that I made it, played the show along with Charlie Chamberlain on mandolin, and the results were what I consider to be one of the best live videos I’ve ever done, especially the quality of the shoot. Oh, and the place was packed but listening intently.

 

The folks running Music Fog at Threadgills could not have been more cordial. That’s the case all over Austin during SXSW. It’s not some drunken spring break scene. Instead it’s thousand of dedicated music lovers moving peacefully and enthusiastically from venue to venue. Very few of the folks I ever meet actually are enrolled in the official event. there’s really no need for that. There’s quality and well known musicians everywhere you look, playing venue after venue with no admission charge.

 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say again how well the Threadgills gig went. Full house, great sound, and exceptional video. And the room had all the ghosts of the past that have played there,Gram Parsons included. You could feel the vibes all over, and they were good ones. Here’s the link to the show we did:

http://www.livestream.com/musicfog/video?clipId=pla_9b2d191d-88e7-4359-adc5-ecfb26f6c66f

 

After sleeping in forever on Saturday morning and hitting Denny’s for breakfast I slowly made my way to South Ausitn to meet up with my friend from the UK, Mike Green. Mike had accompanied two young female singers from the Northwest of England who were going to make there U.S. debut at a singer/songwriter stage. It was a restaurant with an outdoor stage called Waterloo Ice House. Well these two enthusiastic young ladies reminded me what it’s all about.. Their enthusiasm was infectious and Mike beamed with pride as the girls, 16 and 19, performed with no fear, never knowing if they’d ever make it back to the States. But it didn’t matter, they had a story that would last a lifetime.

 

I had to rush back to change into “Tokyo” and play my show at The G&S Lounge that night. I was scheduled to play the Midnight show but wanted to get there at 9pm to catch Grant Peeple’s set, followed by a good player named Mike, and a young songwriter named John Fullbright. .

The place was packed and I enjoyed all of their shows. The only bummer was John’s show ran over and I didn’t play until about 12:20, losing half the house by the time I took the stage and eventually bumping Mare Wakefield from playing her 1AM show. This made me a little aggravated and took me half a set to calm down but we played it and ended the gig at about 1:10AM. After selling a few CDs I headed back to the hotel. Charlie, his wife, and mother in-law were staying outside of town so I found myself alone in the hotel with post gig energy which is always the case no matter how late you play. Your body is tired but your mind is wide awake. Fortunately my wife was wide awake as well back in Chapel Hill so we spoke for about an hour. Then the ultimate crash came and I was out, thinking about the following night’s show as the sandman entered.

 

Sunday morning came with me finding a way to post the Threadgill’s video and allow those that missed it to give it a view. Also the lumpy mattress was taking its toll on my back. Time for Ibuprofen!!! Breakfast again at Denny’s, they know me there now. Have my own booth, LOL. Came back and never left the room as I nursed my back. But I had to have the great Mexican food at Guerro’s so I hit there for a quick burrito before heading back over the G&S Lounge where I’ve been pegged to close the NOT SXSW marathon of music.

Charlie and I hit the stage at about 10:45pm and played a solid 45 minutes before saying “Goodnight Carrie I’m Coming Home”. I treated myself to a strawberry shake on the way back to the hotel and ready to head for home tomorrow afternoon. Charlie and I won’t play again together until I we go on the 3 week Northeast Tour in May. In the meantime I continue to promote and market my new single, “What Did I Used To Be?”, which got a response in Austin.

 

There you have it. Seeya in Austin next year or wherever I land in between.

Peace,

Toke

you can hear music from Tokyo’s latest Album and many of the bands that featured at this years festival spread all over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio

 

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The NBT Review 121

Darling  – Ladytown (Independent Release )

 A songwriter deals(mostly) with the darkness that dwells just inside the edge of life, they are there to document the blur, to transcribe in slow motion the daily stories that most of us would take for granted.

 So to open this short set with a ‘simple’ love song/thank you, a tune that says ‘the battle is done and because of your existence  I can carry on this fight.’ This is most welcome, it offers up that rich redemption and hallowed hope straight away and in these troubled times that is a gift indeed.

 Having given this gift, the singer can explore the darkness a little now, the melancholy that most love, even the best love, often comes wrapped in. She  watches as a writer writes, knowing that her thoughts and requests may be ignored by the one person she
desperately needs to read what she puts down into words.

 In ‘Bombs’ she makes the observation that at times, not doing anything maybe the most pure form of escape after all, a kinda whisper into your ear, that the ‘giving up’ is the only way to keep on. This song is drug like in it’s shading and temptations, a song that seems to say, just for today stop fighting, all the fighting all the pushing in the world will not stop the bomb from falling,

 And yet (and this is the beauty here) this song never feels like a song of defeat. Rather a touching song of acceptance.

Just when we think that this will be a testament to the Internal , a set of lullabies if you will, Ladytown throws a few country rocking tunes full of wit and vigour worthy of a Neko Case or an even more rootsy Jenny Lewis. Showcasing the way the band slips into her songs like forever friends. There is musical telepathy at work here and its wonderful.

In the most touching song here,’Coins’, the fierce glow of an affair is watched as it fades into the passage of time, the finely sketched characters choosing either that escape spoken about earlier, or the heartbreak of not quite letting go.

And then you realise just how well these songs fit together as a whole, that this set has to be listened to and savoured in one setting

Find out for yourself

http://www.ladytownmusic.com

Hear Plenty of tracks from this collection on the NBTMusic Radio

http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

The NBT Review 114

  Tilt – Brett Ryan Stewart (Rainbows In Grayscale Music)

 Sometimes the day to day struggle can seem like a never ending sleepwalk, to get through it you go through the motions, ignore the fear as comrades fall by the way, as they give up and fall deeper into that apathy, that all too reassuring slumber.

Or what happens is you gather your soul up into you, stand and decide to fight on, to overcome the dull, the ordinary to start living again.. to wake up.

 And this is how Tilt begins.

 This is an album that celebrates rejuvenation, the finding of inner strength , about not giving up and yes, allowing yourself to let a little sunshine drive you forward.

 And if this sounds so far, so hippy , oh you would be wrong. This is powerful pop, with country dirt and indie edge, the production glimmers to be sure, but there is no sense of sugar coated emptiness, daytime radio varnish, but rather beautifully thought out song-play and craft.

 This singer knows that the past can create inelegant disturbances and that relationships can tear at the human and create monsters, that life can be a torrid tough old thing to tear through, but instead of choosing grungy self-pity or old C and W whining Stewart makes music that kinda struts, giggles and strolls, slips into the car radio and brightens up the day. Not shouty pointed anthems, but something more subtle, more lasting.

 When its needed he dips the tunes into something slightly seedy, covers them with a sprinkle of ambiguity, so nothing comes out soft, nothing gets too sweet. Stewart seems to know that the charcoal smudges in that colourful portrait add just the right essence of truth, that you had to first gently embrace despair to kick it fully away.

 Find out for yourself

 http://brettryanstewart.com

 The album has been featured on several NBT podcasts and is playlisted on the NBTmusic 24 hr radio station

http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 

The NBT Review 112

 Polar Dust is reviewed by Martin Smit

One Eyed Mule is reviewed by Cobus Rossouw

 Selected Demos – Polar Dust

 It is apt that I start with ‘Between The Lines’ as I swim through this selection. Because this music is all about space and weight, the dreaming, the waking, the thoughts in between those states of being.

This is music that seems both Heavy (not as in powerchords or metal but rather that tempting release of allowing ourselves to SINK) and Floating (not as in insubstantial but bravely floating, untethered to darker places)

 As these are demos there is a tiny bit of fear shooting through this reviewer, that when the songs are given ‘full’ life the band may be urged to ‘clean up’ the murk, the delectable dirt, the ‘otherness’ of these recordings. But it is not the shiny that entices here , rather like an ancient mirror, its the warped reflections, the fragmented visions that keep us captivated.

 We are asked to dive into the ‘Deep End’ while sparkly electronics do sonic battle with bass machine rumble, an industrial thing a pop thing, and then the vocals slip in, benign hallucinations.

 These manage float tween euphoric and lament, they are love songs that the enemy sings to you, lullabyes from suggestive strangers.

 They ask you to get lost In them, With Them and not care about the destination.

 I suggest you get tempted, it is well worth it.

 http://www.ilike.com/artist/Polar+Dust

 You can hear some of these Demos and more on the NBTDarkelectric Podcast going out on the 5th March

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

 and the band is playlisted on the NBTMusic 24 hr streaming Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

 One-eyed Mule – Drifting To A Happy Place (Artiscope Music)

 Anyone hearing One-Eyed Mule for the first time would be forgiven for imagining the band originates from the American heartlands. Their music is standard Americana, so standard that it came as a substantial surprise to hear that they were formed in Denmark and recorded this latest offering in Sweden.

Scandimericana then, easy on the ear, beautifully recorded and always interesting. It’s not an album that sets new benchmarks in music and it’s not avante garde or challenging, but it is wonderful. You see, for me it’s enough if music imparts a mood, evokes an emotion. I don’t always need to think, sometimes I just want to feel, and my word this album did it for me.

Starting off with a happy melancholy, a “September Sigh”, imagery of bleakness and yet hope, something warm, either in the past or the future. Rasmus Dall’s voice could feature in any band, its strength is its ability to express beyond the words, to drag you into the heart of the songs. By the time you reach the second track – “Rain keeps falling on you” he’s dragged you into the album and you will be hooked.

After a crazy week I left the office last week and as I hit the open road the track “Drifting to a happy place” and I wish I could make you all feel how it lifted me. Everything was suddenly ok and the weekend had been set up for joy. And this is why this album is so good. It touches all the nerves, it arouses the happiness junkie in me, it doesn’t so much “keep me going” as “makes me go”.

Now, before you start thinking that this is a simple album with little intellect let me caution you, this band knows its music and the album shows off all the chops without ever being self indulgent. Each song expanding in instrumentation, with banjo, cello, sitar and even jew’s harp. And nowhere is there a trace of overeager ego. In its place is perfect sensibility, which is rare.

It’s even difficult to pick a favorite track, although if I was forced to it would “All your love is gone”. I can’t hear it without singing along, and there’s a Velvet Underground feel to it that I have to love.

So in short – not a single note out of place, never boring, happy without being sentimental, melancholy without being maudlin and a range of pfectly constructed songs – ladies and gents, what One-eyed Mule have given us is a perfect album, perfect in every way.

 http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Eyed-Mule/176292165300

 you can hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcasts going out on the 4th March and last weeks show as well.

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

and One-Eyed-Mule is playlisted on the NBTMusic Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

The NBT Wonderful Ones 2010 Part Two Of Three

another hectic year another huge collection of new acts discovered. When i say new acts, well new to me, and to new to some listeners, a lot of the bands and artists have been playing, creating for ages, making music that seduces and provokes and revigorates.

What was amazing for me , was the the sheer diversity of the tunes on offer, from ghostly industrial landscaping to tender folk ballads, from exuberant indie pop, to things full of complicated time changes and sneaky shifts.And what amazed me even MORE, was that even the most glittery pop concoction, or most basic lo fi rock out, all had  these things in common: passion, care and love.

These were NOT songs made by committee with one eye on sales and the other on offending no one. this was music made for the joy of it, sure the bands want to ‚‘make it‘ want to have that illusive hit, but its the song first, the hustle later. something the majors could learn from, (if they only stopped being so damn SCARED of the independents that is).

So ok.. here are the bands, singers, performers,labels, promoters that made this year even better than the last. ladies and gentle beings here in no particular order are this years Wonderful Ones.

Part One HERE

The NBT Visual Page can be seen HERE
Frequency Theatre
The electro pop buzz of Mr Nate Butler. the zing of a full band but the soul of a tech wizz, the frenzy of a friday night dance floor and the danger of a jump into the unkown.

Nate Butler in his own words:

2010. The year with the cool numbers. For instance – October 10, 2010. All over downtown Chicago were banners with 10.10.10. advertising for the Chicago marathon. For Frequency Theater numbers had a lot to do with our triumphs and our tragedies.

In the triumph column: we played 32 shows this past year, while working 40+ hours a week, and with every member of the band working on music outside of the band as well. It’s not as many shows as I had hoped for – but certainly nothing to laugh at.
In the tragedy column: in ways that I can measure – our fan base has barely grown, and the band is a bit in the hole. We, along with most other independent musicians are scratching our heads and wondering how in the world we are going to ever make money at this.

Our show is quite technical, and after a couple near-disasters recently – we are coming to terms with the fact that to put on the kind of concert experience we want to, we are simply going to have to upgrade some of our equipment.

While all of this is a bit frustrating, let me leave you with this – at our last concert we played to nearly 500 people (who stayed through our entire show) and ended the night with over 60 kids from a marching band, and 15 or so from a youth choir. Those are numbers we like! If you want to know how we did it – head over to www.frequencytheater.com and ask around.

Thank you NBT for all of your help and support,

The Coal Porters

Sometimes a person who supports the independents gets to play his heroes. and so with great karma shining i got to feature and write about this band which featured Sid Griffin, from the Long Ryders (whose cover of Masters Of War still is one of my all time faves) and writer of Shelter From the Storm, the Bob Dylan Rolling Thunder treatise and a Bio of Gram Parsons.

BUT the beauty about the porters was that it was a BAND not just a man and his backing musicians, each player added to the music from the writing inwards, each instrument was a perfect fit. and theymanaged another damn beautiful cover, this time Like A Hurricane. but it was the self penned numbers that stuck with you even more. the kinda album you want to give to friends you REALLY like.

http://www.sidgriffin.com/the-coal-porters/

Sarathan Records

Sarathan head honch Jonathan Kochmer really liked what I wrote about them on the nbtMusic website, and since I meant every word here it is again 🙂

‚’I have worked with Sarathan for a couple of years now, and have found this one simple truth about them. They are honest.

Don’t wrinkle your nose there gentle reader, to find honesty in a label, within ALL their bands, to find truth in every bit of music that comes out from them, is a rare thing indeed.

I believe in every act that I hear from them, but more than that I want to play every act that they have, write about them, and dance to them, go on adventures with them. The label is gently eclectic but each band FITS, there is a rhythm a vibe that joins them. Like perhaps Saddle Creek, Domino or the great 4AD, this is a label that when an innocent musiclover goes into a shop or online and sees that fluttering bird or the name Sarathan, they know the music will be cool, quality and most of all HONEST.‘

Jonathan in his own words:

2010 has been a year of transformation for Sarathan Records. It started like any other year with the release of great CDs by our two Seattle-based indie-rock projects: Feral Children’s Brand “New Blood” and Thunder Buffalo’s self-titled “Thunder Buffalo”. Peter Bradley Adams has continued winning choice placement of songs from his solo releases “Leavetaking” and “Traces” in many TV shows and films. Feral Children and Two Loons for Tea both did some touring in large venues on the East Coast, and Thunder Buffalo had a truly epic DIY one-month tour playing everywhere from city parks in small midwestern towns to well-established venues in big cities. And, of course, being an Internet-centric company, Sarathan continued expanding our reach to bloggers, podcasters and Internet radio stations throughout the world. 
But change was in the air! And came to us in the form of a resurrected idea, a ghost that had been lingering in the back of our minds for years: Sarathan Online Services. The challenge for Sarathan, like many other record labels, is that sales of recorded music continues to plummet, and the prices consumers are willing to pay for music also has continued to fall. What’s a small music business to do? The solution came from resolving a paradox: Sarathan’s online reach had expanded such that we had the power to support many more musicians than Sarathan could sign. We realized we could create a new services division to support the many non-Sarathan artists who we respect, and Sarathan Online Services was born (and appropriately abbreviates to “SOS”! http://www.sarathanonlineservies.com). Though SOS was designed to come to the aid of artists struggling to establish themselves online, SOS has also reinvigorated the label with a stronger sense of purpose. We’ve never been more committed to the idea of sharing good, independent music with the rest of the world.

2011 is now looking very promising. We have a new direction, great new teammates on board, custom databases in the making, and will continue to create additional new innovative services for independent artists. Sarathan Online Services is in the process of promoting our first SOS artist, Jason Spooner, and we are excited to work with the many promising acts who are now signing up for our support! La vida es bella!

http://sarathan.com/

Vanishing Angels
sometimes we catch an act before they get into their stride, so it is with this project, the brainchild of South African based David Goodman, so far ther have been but a few demos, but what we have heard promises well for 2011 and beyond

David in his own words:

2010 was a mixed year for me. On the one hand, I landed a job as a columnist on South Africa’s fastest-growing online news site (News Time). We have 100,000 readers! Here’s the link to my column: www.newstime.co.za/columnist/DavidGoodman/98 (I have written twenty articles for News Time). On the other hand, my album (which was supposed to be released this year) has been delayed indefinitely. Damn this recession!

I’m hoping my album will be released early in 2011. However, it is out of my hands. Everything is ready to be mixed and mastered. It’s a good selection of songs, and Sian (and the other vocalists) have all done a great job. I already have enough material for a follow-up album… And it’s good stuff (a bit darker and grittier than the first batch of songs). Also, there will be more guitars on these tracks (with the possible addition of a permanent Vanishing Angels guitarist). I am working with brand new music software, and there is great potential. I just wish I didn’t have to rely on others. Life is too short… And the years just fly by…

http://www.myspace.com/vanishingangels

Mammut

How does Iceland do it, another cool band that glides through the ether and scrapes at and touches the very popSoul within all of us.Proof again (as if it was ever needed, that the best alternative music has no language barriers) Already chart toppers in their own country, a wider acceptance beckons.

http://www.myspace.com/mammut

Ruth Minnikin
with her Bandwagon, Ruth brought out a concept album of sorts, taking six tracks and using different producers and arrangements, playfully twisted them inside out to make 12 exciting creations. we said: she..delights in showing just how a change of pace, focus and density can bring about new wonders.

http://www.ruthminnikin.ca/

Merry Ellen Kirk

her music was like overhearing an artist‘s innermost thoughts..

Merry Ellen in her own words:

2010 for me has been the year of the Firefly Garden. It’s been a magical reshaping of my musical perspective, and how my music relates to the world around me. The upheaval of the music industry, while it has opened many doors for artists, has also created an unprecedented amount of competition for attention—which leaves one wondering every day “why am I doing this?” (and by “one” I mean me.) Seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, I felt many times this year that I desperately wanted to quit; but then I don’t know what I’d ever really do instead. I went to bed one night (or, realistically, morning) with all these thoughts running through my head, and woke up that morning (yeah, we’ll go with that) with this vision and a chain of words that flowed out of my fingers, through the keyboard on my computer, and into the “bio” section on my MySpace page.

I realized that “if all I do in life is shine a little light into the dark spaces of the world, my time on earth will certainly not have been wasted.”

This eventually turned into a whole conceptual album based on the idea that songs are like fireflies, and they just want to be free to roam about the world and spread a little light. So demos came about over the course of 10 weeks, each week growing one more song, like a garden. Currently I’m in the fan-funding/preorder stage of the project, to turn the demo collection into a full-fledged album. I’m hoping to raise enough money for the project by the end of February 2011.

In the meantime, though, I’ve been working on a new duo project with my friend Aaron Krause called The Shakespeares which I’m thoroughly excited about–we will be releasing our EP February 1!

We’ve already pre-released one song from the project, called “Collide” which is a free download. It was the first one on the project we recorded, and to be honest, I’m liking each one better as we go along, so I’m anxious to see how everyone else will like it, as I am anxious to see what else is in store for the rest of 2011!

Hemifran
Another hero of the indie world, mostly unsung, mainly because he believes its the bands and the artists that should get all the attention, is Peter Holmstedt. A lot of the bands on this blog and on my show are there cause of his tireless efforts. He deals with country, folk and pop giants like Jackson Browne and the Low Anthem but his real focus is getting the smaller labels and acts heard across europe and into the shops and onto the stages.. we NEED people like him, long may he run.

http://www.hemifran.com/news.html

Pink Monkeys/Andrew Kay

another late arrival to NBT, but a seasoned musician on the alt fringe of the SA scene, Andrew has just formed this highly eclectic outfit and already they have songs out ranging from proggy pop, to twisted post post post punk.

Andrew in his own words:

The Pink Monkeys spurted into being towards the end of 2010. This after I, the singer and songwriter in the band, was asked to perform at a biker’s rally in Nelspruit South Africa.  Considering the audience would be bikers and rockers, the main focus of the music had to be rock.

I approached students Marika Potgieter on Bass and Andrew Hamilton on lead to become part of the band.  Unfortunately our drummer Neil Fish was unable to perform, so we were faced with the unenviable position of having to perform as a complete unit, fwith the stand-in drummer, for the first time, on stage. I had, however, spent time with each musician separately going through the songs and rehearsing their parts.  The gig went fairly well considering the above factors.  The Pink Monkeys  even had a few bikers and their babes moshing to a few of the songs.
I have spent the past two years writing and demoing material for an album, which metamorphosed into what can be described as being zef metal – a punk/metal/grunge hybrid that best expresses itself in songs such as Dark Luv, Psychotic Reaction and The Dark Side of Apple Pie.  Next year, 2011 should see the band rehearsing regularly and gigging to raise money for a professional production of the album, entitled Do Not Feed.. These hols the Monkeys are putting visuals together to a few of the songs which we will post on Youtube and Faecesbroek.  The sound is rocking, rifftastic, incendiary, and totally fokken zef, my blaar.

http://www.facebook.com/NBTmusicproject#!/pages/Andrew-Kay/125647309376

Boister

One of the coolest titles of the year was for the album ‚’Some Moths Drink The Tears Of Elephants‘ produced by  Jim Dickinson who worked on Big Star albums among many others. this was roots music as a step out point only, as it took in island rythms and far east swing as it hurtled towards a slow burn perfection.
http://www.boister.net/


88 Kilos Of Sunshine

a mysterious virtual musical project, these sneaky heartbreaking missiles flew from an unspecified location deep in the heart of somewhere else and landed slap bang deep amongst our favourite things, like they had always belonged there.

the Bandleader in his own words :

We’re a little shy when it comes to matters other than the music, so no photos. 😉 in terms of 2011, well, we’ll keep trying to do a song release per month or better. There’s some colabs happening, and possible ventures into other languages, hip hop and perhaps even some classic metal sounds.
In short, just music, music, still without a specific genre and without an album, cos that’s how we roll. It’s kind of a curse though, having no genre, but in the same breath it’s liberating.
One thing I hope will solidify in the next year is what I’m trying to do with 88KOS… At the moment the aim is to do 120 songs in a 10 year period…

http://www.88kos.com

Krista Detor
we wrote: It was tempting to get all theoretical on your ass for this, to pull out my battered vinyl copy of Dylan Thomas reading a Child’s Christmas In Wales and Do Not Go Gentle.. Or mull over again the mystery and sadness of how politics killed a Poet close to a Fountain of Tears, but I am, like most good listeners that will hear this collection, simply just an intelligent savage, and it is what the music and the words give to me that is important, not the brilliant inspiration for their creation.

I noted too, that the fact that these songs are animated by Lorca, Thomas and Darwin amongst others is only mentioned in the various press releases and not on the album itself. So as they say wherever good music is on trial ‘let the songs speak for themselves’

http://www.kristadetor.com/

Inter Idoru

an online promoter for platforms like NBT, this vibrant company has already introduced our listeners to two brilliant bands based in Japan and the UK. and that seems to be only the beginning.

Inter Idoru founder Apryl Peredo in her own words:

2010 in a paragraph or two? Well, I have to admit that my usual search for independent music took a backseat to the enjoyment of watching my pre-teen daughter discover music she likes. Yes, it was all mainstream, but what else does an impressionable young girl listen to? (Eventually I will sway her to the dark side, but for now I accept!) I spent many hours listening to Katy Perry. Good for mindless singing along. Lady GaGa. Not a bad voice, okay music. But a meat dress? Really? And since when is wearing nothing but your panties to a baseball game “rebellion?” Maroon 5. On this, I am in agreeance. Unique vocal style, good melodies, snappy dressers.
As for independent music, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with a fantastic band iCON and their singer Arianne. This woman has a voice as though it is from a fallen angel who truly enjoys doing a saucy striptease! While you’re looking at her bosom, the silken wings come around and stroke your cheek!

I spent some time with a Japanese band called Bo-Peep; 3 rocking girls from Fukuoka who melt faces with a punkish-rock, while wearing adorable yukatas and obi!

For 2011, I hope for more Maroon 5, less Lady GaGa. I hope iCON becomes world known. I hope people laugh at Ted Turners idea of instituting a one-child policy in the USA. And I hope that independent musicians keep making music that fulfills their soul and lets us share their dreams. At least, until they “sell out” by getting famous!

http://interidoru.com/home.cfm

The NBT Wonderful Ones 2010 Part One Of Three

another hectic year another huge collection of new acts discovered. When i say new acts, well new to me, and to new to some listeners, a lot of the bands and artists have been playing, creating for ages, making music that seduces and provokes and revigorates.

What was amazing for me , was the the sheer diversity of the tunes on offer, from ghostly industrial landscaping to tender folk ballads, from exuberant indie pop, to things full of complicated time changes and sneaky shifts.And what amazed me even MORE, was that even the most glittery pop concoction, or most basic lo fi rock out, all had  these things in common: passion, care and love.

These were NOT songs made by committee with one eye on sales and the other on offending no one. this was music made for the joy of it, sure the bands want to ‚‘make it‘ want to have that illusive hit, but its the song first, the hustle later. something the majors could learn from, (if they only stopped being so damn SCARED of the independents that is).

So ok.. here are the bands, singers, performers,labels, promoters that made this year even better than the last. ladies and gentle beings here in no particular order are this years Wonderful Ones.

Parts Two and Three to followThe NBT Visual Page can be seen HERE

Marco Mahler

And what a way to open proceedings: the prince of the subtle complicated, seeming low key but deeply textured and incredibly moving Mr. Mahler kept doing what he does best and created his finest work to date.

Marco in his own words:”I released a new album (“Laptop Campfire Speed”) this past summer, for which I received a good number of great reviews (including one of my all-time favorite reviews of my music from NBT), but it didn’t sell as well as I was hoping, which I think is partly due to the changes in the music industry over the past decade, partly because of a very limited marketing budget, and partly because I didn’t tour in support of the album, for which I just couldn’t find the time to get it all organized (I try to do too much myself I think).

I recorded some new ideas this past fall which might turn into something this next year, and maybe that tour will happen after all.

Thank you to NBT for the support, and everybody else who spread the word, bought a copy, or helped out in other ways. Happy holidays and an amazing new year!

“http://www.marcomahler.com/


DarkLily

In ‚’Illusia‘ Vyolette Johnson created a world  that seemed almost magical victorian tragic romantic and wistful, the NBT review said..”Her creations are measured and classical almost aloof, yet never too detached, they engage us, bombard us with thoughts and regret and deliverance.

http://www.darklily.co.uk/

Tokyo Rosenthal

in my review of his 3rd album i compared Tokyo to Elvis when he was a country rocker, but of course there is more to it than that,  in a mix of protest, love ballad and intimate rock workouts, ‘Ghosts‘ was just a pleasure.

Tokyo in his own words:

‘2010 was perhaps my most amazing year ever and the busiest too. It began with the release of “Ghosts” which hit #5 on The Euro Americana Chart, got about 50 rave reviews and the airplay world wide was my best ever. Not to mention that “Mister Tell Me ‘Bout The Great Depression” was #2 on the NBT Chart and “And Then You Sang” also reached #2 on The Hot Disc Chart in Australia and Europe.

Touring was major for me this year as I hit the UK for the fourth time, played The Bitter End in NYC twice, made my Nashville debut, and played about 100 dates finishing up the year in Canada in Montreal and Ottawa.

2011 plans include a new album coming out in May, a West Coast Tour in February, Texas in March, and back to the other side of the pond in the Fall.

http://www.tokyorosenthal.com

Apollo‘s Sun

what we said when nominating him for Artist for October on the NBTMusic website, ‘Something fresh blows in the darkness, invades the smoke filled room full of jabbering idiots and fragile egos making sounds to just fill in the vaccum of their existence. Suddenly here is a hip hop artist that deals in the subtle, that creates deeply moving sometimes disturbing tunes for the thoughtful and the restless.

Mr Billy Krouse aka Apollo’s Sun makes albums that you want to set time aside to listen to, that you want to hold your finger over the ‘play’ button for tiny seconds until you are quite ready, that you almost want to keep just to yourself like that exotic chocolate, or that new Scorsese movie, but find yourself trying to send it to those (whose taste you value) as often as possible.‘

Pollyanna
Folk was really only the starting point for the France based Pollyanna, there were hints of jazz and even old time country swing within it‘s (deceptively) quiet grooves.

Isabelle Casier in her own words:

‘A word to label 2010? Easy : GERMANY.I spent several weeks touring here in various wheather conditions. Thanks toSongs&Whispers, my mental booker and label in Bremen. It’s true, what they say :you have great audiences here, and it helps you get better on stage. I feeltotally like the Beatles, now.

At the beginning of 2010, I had an agonizing band, and I was just recovering fora long writer’s block. At the end of 2010, I have 20 new songs, I met greatmusicians to play with, including a violinist from Hannover, Guido Eva. And, inFrance, two jazzmen, a drummer from Brittany, string and wind players… Ihave a lot of plans with them.All in all, I played some 70 shows this year, which is a lot for someone who still has a dayjob.

My plans for 2011 : come back here to support my album “On Concrete”, that’s just been released on this side of the Rhine, and work on new stuff. I shouldrecord not one but probably two albums! I’ll also play in the UK in january, and go back to New York in spring.

My funniest experience this year? My first rootsy folk event : FestivalMaritim in Bremen, where I made friends twice my age wearing wool hats, French people from the coast, and where I played with Guido for the first time, after only one rehearsal of 20 mn. Things went fast : we’ve just played together a very special show with a quartet at Sendesaal in Bremen on Dec. 11. Playing witha chamber orchestra was simply not thinkable a few months ago… I was sooooo 2010, back then!‘

http://www.pollyanna.org/

Aaron English

we called him a Piano Man, and indeed he seemed to bridge that difficult gap ‘tween the  alt pop of a Peter Gabriel and the songwriting finesse of early Billy Joel.

Aaron in his own words:

‘Thanks to the release of my third album, 2010 was a breakthrough year for me: I had my first Top 20 radio hit, and released my first music video. As the music industry shifts and evolves, it appears that we still love to discover our music in two very old and time-tested ways: by listening to the radio and watching videos. Both successes were very exciting for me, and I look forward to hitting the radio charts and getting more videos up on the new Mtv – better known as YouTube.

It’s exciting to be living through this time of transition – in the global music industry, in our global society, and certainly (ahem) in our global economy. As the world gets smaller and smaller, thanks to the Internet, there’s an ever-increasing sense of “we’re all in this together”.

The times we’re living can be a terrifying roller-coaster ride, sure. But the uncertainty and instability also means that these are also times of seemingly limitless horizons. I look forward to 2011, and beyond, simply because I am _dying_to_know_what_happens_next._

Me, I’ll be touring the States, solo, which I’ve never done before (I’ve always toured with a supporting band). It’ll be just me, my piano, a board full of loop pedals and a variety of traditional folk instruments from around the world. Again, I’m terrified by the uncertainty, but excited for the possibilities….’

http://www.aaronenglish.com

Count To Fire
If any band i heard this year could give Calexico a run for their money it would be this one. As i put this together i notice they have just got a pretty cool review in the dec edition of Uncut. way to go guys.
http://www.myspace.com/counttofire

The Adventure Spirit

another band to sneak in a jazzy old time feel into their pop playfullness was Melbourne‘s Adventure Spirit. their track Golden Spells made it into the NBT trax of the year as well!

The Band in their own words:

‘For us, 2010 was a year of branching out. We launched our new album Grand Standard in September and took the chance to tour a bit more and saw a lot more of our country- it’s never looked greener. We shot our first video clip, Whiskey & Wine and enjoyed watching it on ‘Rage,’ Australia’s most famous music video show. Grand Standard got a fair bit of radio airplay in Europe, more than at home which helped shape our plans for 2011.

Next year we plan to tour a lot more of Australia but also to make a brief tour of Europe. This is quite a challenge, as we live so far away, but we’re determined to make it. Thanks to the web, it’s a lot easier to share our music with people who like it. We want to get to as many clubs, bars and cafes as possible, so we can play for them all.’‘
http://www.theadventurespirit.com/

BirdEatsBaby

Making the list for the third time in a row!, and releasing their second EP Bigger Teeth, it was a busy year for the Birds, as their sound grew into something quite epic.
the Band in their own words:
‘2010 was the year we the conquered the Secret Garden Party festival, toured Europe with none other than Bitter Ruin and recorded our second EP, ‘Bigger Teeth’. We also created another music video for ‘I Always Hang Myself With The Same Rope’, and were interviewed on BBC 6 music. It has definitely been our most productive year so far… and we’re only just getting started!

2011 is Birdeatsbaby’s first time in America – we cannot wait to play to our US fans! We’re starting off with a four date tour down the East Coast and then we head to Jason Rubal’s studio in Pennsylvania to record our second album, ‘Feast of Hammers’. This is due for release late next year, and we will probably be hitting the festivals again next summer too…‘
http://www.birdeatsbaby.co.uk/

19 Mirrors

a giddy mix of new wave and disco, with heavenly femme vox layered on top. it could only be indie cool from Tokyo, with only an EP and a handful of digital trax out, 2011 seems bursting with promise for this young band.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/19-Mirrors/97860389218

Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt

A late arrival to the halls of NBT, Sean brought his huge soundscapes to our world, a Berlin based American, there was something incredibly other-worldly about his compositions.

http://www.avachorda.de/

Richard Kapp and the Gowns
Another artist to make it up here for the 3rd time Richard formed a big(ish)band, broadened his horizons without losing an iota of his charm, and sent out his second truly great album into the world. his country ballad ‘Another Town’ (with Ina Simone) became a dominant presence on the NBT office playlist.

Richard in his own words:

I am happy to say that 2010 was a really great year for me and my band “The Gowns”. First of all we shared stage with the wonderful BirdEatsBaby two times this year. In Summer we met in UK and played two gigs with them in Brighton and London (which was our first UK Mini-Tour and we were really excited!) and then they came to Vienna again in October along with a fantastic act called “Bitter Ruin”.

We had a really great time. Mishkin, Keely (of BirdEatsBaby) and I even performed a song that we wrote together one day before our gig. We decided the song should be about me being a kind of weird cheese addict, so we called it “The Cheesy Freak”. I think the audience really liked it …although I think that I could have performed better if we had more time for rehearsal, hehe. 🙂

Another Highlight was meeting up with Cassis and Matt Keating, who were on tour and asked me if they could play a gig with me in Vienna which was very exciting for me. Both are excellent musicians. It worked out and we had lots of fun including a enthusiastic audience on that evening.

It was a wonderful experience to connect with such talented musicians and work things out together in such a smooth, friendly and supportive way. None of this would have happened without NBT by the way as Martin was so kind to connect me to Cassis. Same goes for the fantastic gang of BirdEatsBaby to which I listened on a NBT podcast last year for the first time and then decided to get in contact with them on myspace (after I was totally thrilled by their music). So, thank you so much NBT for all the support regarding indie musicians.

Another highlight of 2010 for me was that I got the opportunity to write a jingle for a short TV show on an austrian channel called “Austria 9” (anyone who reads this and needs someone to write a jingle or something else for TV or a movie: I am available.;) and that a guy from Germany, after listening to my song “Sweet Melody” on the web asked me if they were allowed to perform it on his wedding. This was really a big honour for me. And last-but-not-least our album “Lunchbox” finally got a distribution here in Austria and is now available in all the big stores here which is wonderful.

Meanwhile, me and “The Gowns” are currently working on our next album, which is going to be released in May, 2011 and will be called “Uniform Pose”. I am looking forward to this a lot. Also, I am currently in talks with some musicians regarding another UK tour and if all goes well, I might play my first gig in New York with Cassis and Matt Keating. So, things look bright here and I hope that they do for you aswell. There are so many talented musicians that can be heard on NBT and I wish everyone of you great success and joy in 2011 with everything you do! Have an awesome 2011!!!

http://www.richardkapp.com/

Farrad

We didnt get too much pop soul funk sent into NBT this year, huge pity by the way, but Farrad‘s release ‚‘The Time Is Now‘ more than made up for it. a very now take on Prince Cheekiness and dancefloor polish, the album of remixes was divine too

http://farrad.com/

Lonnie Kjer and Stefan Mork

not content with releasing the haunting 13 songs, the band vid-blogged about it‘s creation, catch that here:

http://www.youtube.com/KjerMork#p/f/5/HTGTxo79F4s

Richie Lawrence
want to get transported from chilly Europe to a the home of Sultry Americana? then spin Melancholy Waltz and its totally possible.

Richie in his own Words:

In January of 2010, after 40 years of playing and performing, I was able to release my first solo record, Melancholy Waltz.

Cary Baker (Conqueroo), a highly respected publicist from Los Angeles, upon hearing the CD said, “Yours is a very deep and unique album”, and then he passed on it.  As it turns out, his statement was very indicative of what was to come. // “ Brilliant songs..” said Peter Holmstedt (Hemifran) //   “.. a wonderful recording. Your ability to capture your emotion, while one of the most difficult things to do in recording, was done with ease.” Billy Fields (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) //   “When there is regret it is gentle and when there is love it is profound and utterly moving.” NBT //  “First there is the uncommonly handsome artwork…then there is the music of a rare beauty and simplicity revolving around the impressive piano playing of Richie Lawrence” Rootsville, Dani //  “Excellent pianist with passion” Hollandsposten.se, Gert-Ove Fridlund//  “Melancholy Waltz….is a particularly truthful album”. From the Balcony by Dr. Teeth //  “there’s something powerful and joyful about his piano compositions that’s hard to explain” Blogcritics.org, Brian Fitzpatrick.   I am thrilled by comments describing passion, impressive playing, great songwriting, emotion, and above all, Truth and Honesty in performance.  Cary Baker and many others admired and passed on the record, and I have sold very few.  And it doesn’t matter.  I’m writing more songs and I can’t wait to start recording a second Richie Lawrence CD.  2011 here I come.Thank you NBT and Martin for including me in all that you’ve done.

http://www.richielawrence.com/


Million Dollar Mouth

from the NBT Review:
‚’In some reviews they are called tasteful, and while that’s well meant, I think it does them a disservice, because it implies that the band play it safe with their songs. This is so not the case, sure these are creations aimed straight to the heart of the chart, but they are also pulsing real things tensed up with pop steel.‘

http://www.milliondollarmouth.com/

Ripple Music
The dedicated guys at Ripple sent me so much good music this year. all very much left of centre, all slightly freaky, some lo fi, lots progressive, all operating purposfully in that strange wasteland where deviants and poets and boogie practioners party hard. They were a kool aid acid antidote to the mundane and the ordinary. Not only did they give new bands a chance but resurrected cult heroes from the not too distant past. Working with them wasnt work it was simply playtime! 🙂

Ripple co-founder John Rancik in his own words:

When Ripple Music debuted on The NBT Network in August of 2010, the business of pedaling records was fast and furious, and things hadn’t really even begun to happen yet!

Since June, the month that saw the very first Ripple Music release, the label has produced ten pieces of physical product (5 CD’s, 2 double LP’s, 1 single LP, and 2 7” singles), landed U.S., Europe, and Japan distribution deals, sold out of the first vinyl pressing of Poobah’s Let me In, and garnered excellent press and radio airplay for all of its acts.

2010 has undoubtedly been a year of growth and great success, and all of the hard work that’s been put into making this label successful is all a precursor to an even bigger and better year in 2011!

2011 will kick off with a bang as Ripple Music is preparing a deluxe re-issue of the debut Stone Axe album as a CD/DVD package, followed closely by the Heavy Ripples double 7” project that will include the burly sounds of Stone Axe, as well as Sun God In Exile, Mighty High, and Grifter.

Further releases in the year will include vinyl releases of Venomin James’ first album, Left Hand Man, the ten year anniversary re-issue of the first Mos Generator album, a newly recorded Poobah album, Santa Barbara’s melodic modern rockers Tripdavon and a deluxe re-issue of their album Sketches From Silence, Grifter’s new full length album, a brand new Iron Claw album, and even more that hasn’t been finalized yet.

On top of all that, Stone Axe was recently added to the Roadburn Festival, which takes place in Tilburg, Holland in April, and Ripple Music will be working in a sponsorship role with The Soda Shop.com on their annual Fuzzapalooza Festival.
. . . and don’t even get us started talking about 2012!!!

http://www.ripple-music.com/

Tori Sparks

With her album the ‘Scorpion In The Story’ Tori took us on a journey across America, easing us musically into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary souls and their day to day battles. it was her skill in capturing the tiny details that got us hooked.

Tori in her own words:

2010 was sheer madness in the best possible way. I was on the road more than ever before, in a total of eleven countries, and made some amazing new friends all over the world. I was touring in support of our 2009 release “The Scorpion in the Story,” which reach the Top 20 in theEuropean Americana Charts and the Top 5 in Sweden.

Thank you so much to everyone – audience, press and radio folks, promoters – who helped make itsuch a whirlwind-but-fantastic-year.

In spite of the world-wife economic downswing, music fans seem to be going strong. Viva a revolution. (I also taught myself Spanish, learned to make a proper omelette, and finallyrealized that I will never learn how to play the banjo.)

2011 is bound to bring some new adventures – I’ve found that one can never predict the roller coaster ride of the days to come, but I expect thisyear to be particularly fun and crazy.

I’ll be touring out west in theU.S. in the early part of the year, topped off by an appearance at Southby Southwest. Almost immediately following the tour, I’ll be pulling uproots and moving to Barcelona, Spain. Mucho tapas will be consumed, Ican’t wait!

I will be touring in the UK and Europe through 2011, so I hope to see each of your lovely faces while I’m out there on the road. Our fourth album “Come Out of the Dark,” featuring guest vocalists ShawnMullins, Mike Farris, David Mead, and Paris Delane will be released onGlass Mountain Records in the summertime. All info will of course be onToriSparks.com, please stay tuned for details! …Somewhere in there, Iwill get some sleep…http://www.torisparks.com/