The NBT Review 113

  Alive (Book and CD/ Deluxe Edition) – Tallulah Rendall (Transducer)

 The music is only the start of things..The Songs are only the beginning of this creative journey, Plays, artworks, videos, performance and the documenting of these collaborations form the basis of the book that accompanies the set of tunes.

 And yet as a diligent reviewer, one who hopes to try to get at least a little into the soul of the work, one must for the moment put aside the book and approach just the music, then come back to the book and then the music together.

 If this all sounds like hard work, let me assure you it is not, it is an adventure, a game, an experience that I found I did not want to end, and indeed it did not have to end, because each collaboration added another dimension to an already dense and sparkling universe.

 So it is highly recommended that when you get this album, make very sure you get the book too.

 But now I must be brave, and plunge just into the music, give my own thoughts on what I think takes place. Because everything starts with the music and the music shines differently into each listener’s soul.. and a reviewer can only report, this is what I heard, felt, saw, and in that way (when positive) inspire others to start their own journey (or in the rare negative case) give warning that the trip may not be worth it.

 I am of course double cursed/blessed as I have already reviewed Alive the EP, so now I must shed the shackles of the Previous and dive in as if all is new, listen with innocent ears as it were.

 The title track, is a tumble-drift of awakening, a bare sketch morphing into a colourful living swirlThing, it is the shot of adrenalin needed to, ‘go bathe in the light’, all PJ Harvey guitar rumble, galloping into the intensifying maelstrom, along with Anna Calvi, Rendall seems to be heading this lovely trend of darkly yet empowering pop music coming our way in 2011.

 then a switch in mood, its magical ballroom dance, romantic harmonies, falling in love music,the instruments create a pleasant pressure, the equivalent of being lost in a fog and fascinated by it.

Playful even, the way the intro to ‘Nothing Is Over’ evokes an old time Western ballad which stretches wilful into something sultry and sly.

 Then back to the throb, stand out (should be) single, ‘Colourblind’ the kind of thing, that you sway to immediately, as you fill up on that top of the roller-coaster vibe.

 The Joy of this collection is its balance. You never feel the song suffers from the application of studio craft, it is destined for radio waves and cyberspace but that knowledge is second hand, not cynically manipulated for maximum effect. The ambition never gets in the way of the personal.

 And then again I listen, this time with book in hand. I learn of wondrous art being made. Of tasks taken up, challenges accepted and met, with gleeful daring and …

 hope.

 This whole ‘product’ is a testament to the belief that art is a shape shifting goddess with boundless gifts.

 I urge you to go and get this

http://www.tallulahrendall.com/category/music/

 Tallulah has several songs on the new nbtMusic 24 hr radio station

http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 and is one of the featured artists on this weeks NBT Podcast

 http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

 

Advertisements

The NBT Review 74

Laptop Campfire Speed – Marco Mahler (Independent Release)

Imagine sitting, as passenger, behind your beloved as they hurtle down the highway on their seemingly ancient motorbike. You have a worn hand held camera and you are making movies of all that slides past.

This is the soundtrack to that surreal blur.

Here the strange things, the dark even disturbing things, are camouflaged by the twinkled reflection of shiny minimalist pop, the hushed voice comforts, seduces, distracts, and  the weird is natural now, the abstract makes sense.

This music is as honest as architecture made for function and as a gift; it has that throb about it only found in CDs like this and airports at 3 am in the morning. It is a little girl turning cartwheels for her mother (the giddy chaos of her perceptions stretched, slowed down, made melodic) and the thoughts of that lover holding on tight and capturing the journey as you ride.  

Sometimes, the structure closes into the conventional, although of course that’s a Lou Reed late Saturday night conventional, that ambiguous drift from detached observer to a wry empathy, so that if you are working (for example typing frantic as I am now) and listening, suddenly the song stops being background, kinda demands you stop what you are doing, and focus on what you are hearing instead.

The composer trusts in the coziness of repetition , these are modern blues songs for the TV channel surfer ,as I flipped through endless variations of BBC One,( Ireland, Whales, London and so on) the staggered peculiar slide of the narrative reminded me stronglyof the Mahler song ‘I’ll Just Find A Million Other Things To Do.’’

Yes, this is yet another collection to treasure and to live with.

http://www.marcomahler.com/

You can hear Songs from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th June 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 69

Starlit Apocalypse

Air

Endless – SNMT (Black Flower Music)

Plus Brand new Tracks from an upcoming release

I decide to listen to this music in the basement of my postwar (forever tween modern and ancient) German small town flat. I have this feeling that the ambience of the musty dark room full of wounded and dead appliances will suit these tunes. That as the sounds drift over the discarded machines of fun and comfort, and cardboard boxes packed to overflowing with no longer loved or listened to vinyl and comics begging for a future generation to love them, the rust and the glitter, the oil and the blood contained within the ragged rhythms will reveal themselves.

I have Three sets to go through plus new songs yet to find a home, and as a tense grey storm brews out there on the street I press random, then press play, lean back against the hard concrete and let the musicians have their chaotic way with me.

So if you expect some sort of order, the stability of one collection then the next, you are in the wrong place. This is for the senses, for the emotions provoked.

Oh I love the slow crawl into AWAKE that the first tune offers, airspace full of the crackle and shock of the moody electric. On this Floating Bridge, one must tread carefully, because it shudders and this is no silent vacuum of stars, here the squeaks shoot out sharp, always tempting the delicate balance to betray itself.

In this Graveyard, the ghosts are bloated, stumbling raw, they puff outward abrasive, yet believe (to the very core or their distressed hearts), that they can hug you, wrap around your soul, blanket like. So they chatter picking fraught phrases from the static. They are lost and there is something beautiful about that.

Now it’s time to fly once more, into a drift that is both unsafe and gentle, a shy startled seductive trip somewhere Between Space. The calm is deceptive though and The Turbo Lolita burns, as she drags us into her, this is Ragnarok , but no Gods on this level, these are men women, demons swimming in the heat, the confusion of yesterday’s failed flirting and tomorrows heavy rampage. They throw out the thoughts in waves that, to LoveYou is to fall, is to surrender to this fine noise, to perhaps find the melody where you may and ride it deeper (not AWAY) but inwards.

Then abruptly the Charm of an orchestra full of the scared and the hesitant brave, take a seat in the empty auditorium watch the blur on stage, the colours shifting as the music finds ways to heal itself. the Deep White entices, you want to dream here, though the unease shifts, sighs in its sleep abandoned baby birds, (clockwork or digital or just projection?) nag at us, to not relax too much, don’t let the REM movement take over

With this music

You may never come out.

Find out for yourself how one band makes so much chaos and beauty. Download from a vast selection of great albums here

http://blackflowermusic.com

You can hear tracks from all these sets on the next NBT Dark Electric podcast going out on the 17th June

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

And Black Flower Music will be the featured label in July on the http://nbtmusic.de website.

                              If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of SNMT’s Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

                           (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

The Wonderful Ones 2008 Part One

wonderful-ones

The Wonderful Ones 2008 Part One

Listen to These artists On the NBT special Christmas Show Going Out

19th Dec 08

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

Also catch the brand new NBT photo gallery featuring a whole bunch of the artists here:

http://jalbum.net/browse/user/album/82358/

 

Well it’s been 12 long hectic eclectic months since i last featured The Wonderful Ones. In that 12 months the NBT Project became ‘’the little Resource that could.’’

Listenership of the podcast nearly trebled, the readership of the NBT blogs soared to five times as much, the offshoot podcast for darker music was born, and the Alternative country podcast is almost ready for the tear and glare of the internet universe.

Again I was amazed and thrilled to find so much good music out there in Independent Land. Music of honour, strength and passion, Punk, Pop, Soul, Dance, Rock n Folk, all the tribes were heard from, and NBT found itself in the weird position of trying to fit three years of new music in just 356 days.

So. Here they are

The Bands

The Artists

The Resources (labels, promoters, distributers)

The Wonderful Ones of 2008.

Below (in Alphabetical Order) is a bit about each of them, as well as thoughts from the bands/artists themselves about this past turbulent year and their hopes for 2009

Ariel Publicity/Rhoda

Those who are regular readers of NBT, know that we host the Ariel ‘New Media Pioneer Interviews’ which showcase those brave souls/podcasters/bloggers who spend their time promoting independent music on the net. But of course AP is much more than that; it is tireless in its efforts to expose new artists to the world, to get them seen on as many stages (virtual and worldly) as is possible. I asked Ariel to choose and artist for selection onto this blog and here is Rhoda.

A native of Uganda, Rhoda was raised in the Washington, D.C. area, where East and West African rhythms, pop, jazz, Broadway, R&B, and hip hop music imbued her childhood, creating a unique hybrid in her musical sensibilities. As a member of various choral groups, from school and church choirs to a female a capella group while attending the University of Virginia, Rhoda’s musical instruction includes five-part harmony and piano. Her talent emerges from deeply within, guided by a natural force of love and passion for all things creative.

Rhoda: The year that was 2008 has been yet another wonderful year in my musical journey. Early in 2008, I joined a rock band as one of three lead vocalists performing at various charitable events, including fundraisers for local school communities and AIDS research, with some incredible celebrities, including Paul Shaffer, American Idol Ruben Studdard and American Idol contestant Kimberly Locke. As the year progressed, I continued to bring the West Village, Harlem and even Jersey City’s respective houses down performing with the greatest funk cover band in the land, Loose Booty.  And in September of 2008, I released my second solo album. The album Rhoda is my deepest treasure; my collection of soulful songs of the heart which explore some of the most significant relationships of my life.

As 2008 draws to a close, I look back with an inspired and adoring eye, remaining ever-grateful for all the beautiful harmonies sung, every amazing solo played, every kind word of support and encouragement from MySpace friends, music bloggers, and warm faces in the audience, and most of all, for every moment I saw and felt someone moved by the music I feel so honored and compelled to create.  As I look forward to 2009, I see myself performing intimate acoustic sets at various venues in New York City and throughout the East Coast, I see many more endless hours of the funk brought to you by Loose Booty, and yes, I see album number 3 which me and my incredible producer, Kareem A. Walkes, have already started writing. It’s going to be a lovely ride. I hope you’ll join me.

http://arielpublicity.net

http://www.rhodankojo.com/

Bilkis

Bilkis aka Sophie brought a stripped down electronica/folk into the NBT world in 2008, melding the ghosts of This Mortal Coil, and Nick Drake and making shadows and blurs sensual again.

Bilkis: 2008 has been a productive year. I have spent quite a lot of time working at my craft of singing.

And started some recordings with Victor Kuc, I am excited with what we are producing… and although we haven’t had much time together for recording.. he lives in Poland I live in London… we hope to do more work together early next year. We produced a great cover version of Bel Biv Devoe’s Poison, which needs a few finishing touches before it can be released. And have started work on one of my own tracks which I should be done in the next month…(takes longer when you don’t live in the same country!)

 

In 2009 I’m going to be spending more time Poland. While I’m there I’ll not only be recording things and putting down beats for my own Album, but doing some collaborative work on tracks which are stylistically very different from what I do…I’m sure the result will be interesting!!

I hope to have releases also, a single near the beginning of the year… and hopefully an album later on in the year.

www.myspace.com/bilkis

BirdEatsBaby

As the days turned to winter and flirted hard with the snow reflected nights, NBT discovered warmth upon the cabaret stage with the crooked PopTheatre sounds of BirdEatsBaby. Look out for the debut album early 2009, and played an extreme amount of times by us.

BeB: Birdeatsbaby began the year fresh-faced and eager, filled with the hope and energy, which every hard-working band feels, thinking that this would be the year for us. So far, we have watched as the music industry buckled under downloading chaos, and descend further into the same old Indie crap. But we are not broken, we have kept playing, some were bad gigs, such as empty rooms and deepest, darkest Ipswich. We have also had the opportunity to play to wonderful, appreciative audiences, with artists such as Thomas Truax and Lou Hickey. We were one of the last bands to play the hallowed Pressure Point stage before its closure, and we were featured in an acoustic set at the Great Escape Festival.

                However, we are forever looking forward. This year will be the making of us, our album is ready and we will be releasing it around May 2009. To promote this, we are setting off on a grand tour of the U.K. and Europe, with our arch-nemesis Mr. Joe Black. With our combined efforts, we shall descend upon Europe and give them a show they will never forget. We shall prevail.

http://www.birdeatsbaby.co.uk

Deni Bonet

Classically trained Violinist Deni Bonet, has played with a shiver inducing who’s who of of the finest alternative folk indie and pop artists around including NBT personal faves, REM , Warren Zevon and Richard Thompson. But in 08 she brought out her album `Last Girl On Earth’ which showcased a great mix of the vulnerable and the sassy.

http://www.denibonet.com/

Joe Cassady and the West Coast Sound

This was music of subtle textures, it had a polished surface that enticed into a disturbing yet welcoming world that mixed the surreal with beat poet wanderings, then mixed it all up again with an seeming effortless folk rock boogie. The album, ‘What’s Your Sign’ had one of the best covers this year as well.

Joe: 2008 was a big year for us!  It started out on some pretty high notes with a lot of great recognition for our debut full-length CD, What’s Your Sign?  The first week of the year saw it named by USA Today music editor Ken Barnes as one of his favorite CD’s of 2007, that was followed by a similar recognition from Soundstage! magazine. We then began our European radio and media campaign for the record and were thrilled to have it very well received.  BBC2’s Bob Harris spun us two weeks straight on his show in the UK which was a huge honor and we were similarly honored with all the various airplay and press received we received, NBT included!

In May it was back to the studio again to begin recording our follow-up record The 47th Problem which will be out on the Avenue A Records label in February and which NBT is getting first cracks at previewing in the “Best of 2008” podcast.  Somewhere in between all of this we played 40 live dates and I hosted a weekly Americana Music series called “Avenue A Records Presents” at locations in New York City and New Jersey—it was a busy year!  In 2009 we will be releasing our new CD The 47th Problem in the U.S. and Europe and playing a ton of shows here in the U.S. in support of it.  Hope you enjoy it.  Have a great 2009!

http://www.joecassady.com

Colour Cold

With the release of debut album ‚‘Safe From Silence‘The far from Cold Bloemfontein South African band proved all of us that had been praising them to the mountains and over the oceans and beyond had been right. An example of what College Rock should sound like, taking dashings of EMO, Hard Rock and Power Ballads, and with ‘to die for’ pop hooks left behind the angst and self satisfaction of most of the ‘BIGname’ superstars.

CC: The year we decided to run!

It is always exciting to begin a new year. Something urges you to do better and elaborate plans fill January month to help bring the big world a little closer to your stage. The challenge is not the beginning of the year; it is keeping the excitement and drive long enough to help you through the challenges of those plans.

We began 2008 the same way we do every year, only this time we decided to run.

With a borrowed budget, late night recording sessions after work, phone calls that reached almost one hundred and e-mails to four countries, we released our debut album and performed to a sold out venue in our hometown. Two to three months passed and with June approaching, it all seemed to be slowing down. More phone calls and more e-mails… till suddenly we see one of our songs climb an independent rock chart up and up to number two. Reviews clearly state that a lot of effort was put into the album release and radio stations are now taking our phone calls and arranging interviews on shows we have been listening to for years.

We have achieved more in 2008 than the previous three years combined, but our greatest success has been the friendship and trust we have gained from people around the world who we have never even met.

The video documentary with Gee Davey was certainly a highlight this year. My hope for 2009 is that more artists come together and enjoy the gift of music a little more. I think that the business of music in general will stay on the same road next year, and those who keep their feet firmly on the petrol, or gas if you prefer, will have more success. For Colour Cold, 2009 will be a continuation of 2008, with more music off the shelf, live shows to film and great friends to meet.

And if you thought we run pretty fast, watch us sprint!

Liz Tsikkos COLOUR COLD

http://www.colourcold.co.za/

Ian Churchward/The Morrisons/Legendary Ten Seconds

No ‘best of year’ NBT blog would be complete without mentioning Ian, band member of  The Morrisons AND the Legendary Ten Seconds, Ian forever brings the spirit of John Peel into the NBT studio, which is one of the small things that keeps me going. He also composed the insanely catchy NBT theme tune.

http://www.freewebs.com/themorrisonsband

Feral Children

A private howl for every bedroom, a group gasp and the indie world dances, its the songs behind the stories of the smeared lipstick, the starlight sparkle of the bottle in the forest, the StagediveEternal.  ‘Second to the Last Frontier’ becomes NBT’s   Album of the Year by a Band.

FERAL CHILDREN’S Assessment of 2008:
2008 was a long year, a busy year for our band and ourselves. We started 2008 by playing a sold-out new years show, followed closely by the first of four tours. We saw the courting of ourselves by our current record label, Sarathan Records. We watched sunsets in the Moab Desert on the way to and from Austin. We played benefits for local and national causes. We wondered if we can tour Europe in 2009. We started writing a new record. We found ourselves in New Jersey at a bowling alley eating pork roll and tofu while a band set up 40 amps. We deafly drove home in four days. We’re home now finishing our preproduction for the first recording session of our next record, which will bookend 2008 quite nicely.2009 is anyone’s guess. We will finish recording our second record, possibly in more sections due to talk of tours. We’re still wondering if we can go to Europe or Japan this next year. Our only goal is to hopefully become better musicians through the process of touring and writing. Hopefully that will be the case.
Some of our reviews- 
Pitchfork 
CMJ
 
Visit us-
website

Lauren Fincham

One of the few Artists to make both the 2007 AND the 2008 lists, Lauren released the album ‚‘Perfect Pain‘and we had the pleasure of writing about it for our first ever NBT Review Blog.

Lauren: 2008 was a quiet, reflective year for me; I feel like I finally regained my creative focus.

 Most of my challenges were internal – emotional struggles with changing relationships and my own economic ups & downs.

I did get to reconnect with some important people that I’d thought I’d lost to drugs, but they’ve returned and are starting to share their musical gifts once again.

I am very grateful for that gift.

I also learned that my dog Anya is helping me to have more patience and know how to enjoy a nap.

 2009

 I really really want to travel more this year – I have been dreaming of going to Iceland for 3 yrs and haven’t gotten it together yet – but hopefully I will soon

I also would like to travel to a lot of the cities and countries to meet the awesome folks that support and play my music.

Maybe someone out there can help me come up with some ideas on how to do that?

 I have big plans to be bolder and more prolific with my creative ventures…

 We’ll see how that turns out.

http://www.12houserecords.com/lfincham/index.htm

 

 

Gee Davey

A time warp-tumble of now and then, hints of hardcore, grandfunky  SoulGrunge pop. Super shiny artifacts rolled reflecting on empty cold beaches and  the super light flares on the highways of the big city.

As well as releasing a captivating EP this year (She Sells Smiles) DJ and the guys collaborated with South African band Colour Cold to make a two part Video Documentary about both bands; check out both bands myspace pages for news on that.

DJ from Gee Davey: 2008 was a great year for us in Gee Davey –land.  We really, really, threw ourselves into our live show this year and we have really just been gigging anywhere and everywhere they would let us play.  This year was such a mosaic of shows, to think back on it now is fascinating.

In 2008:  we played for thousands of people under a beautiful sunset just yards from the water on the north shore of Long Island and we played for only seven people at one of the hippest clubs in New York City; we played during the hell of late August when the air conditioners broke, and we played at midnight during the first snowfall in December  (strangely enough, at the same club); we played at 1 in the afternoon and we played at 2 in the morning; we played with hard rock bands, modern rock bands, classic rock bands, jam, metal, psychedelic-trip, power-pop and cover bands, and some of the best bands we have ever shared a stage with.  We played on while sweat burned our eyes, and blood trickled from our fingers; while our equipment faltered, and our voices gave out.  But most importantly, we played on.

And just as we end every show we play, I give you the very last line of the night, from “Last Song”…

…and I’ll sing my song to you, it’s all I want to do.

Thank you very much 2008…    (and goodnight!)

http://www.geedavey.com/

Grand Atlantic

From Australia the BIG music, on their album ‘This Is..’ Grand Atlantic tapped in the orchestral majestic finding superb sweetness and infinite sighs within their beautiful pop songs.

Phil Usher: 2008 turned out to be a different year from what we had planned, but was a typically busy one for Grand Atlantic.  We began writing and recording our second LP in December 2007 and had hoped to finish up by April 08.  Of course being an independent band, there are many things to consider and we ended up finishing the tracking at the end of August.  The missed deadline wasn’t helped by our usual ambitious approach to writing and recording an album.  I am happy to say that the album has been mixed by the fabulous Magoo and was mastered in Nashville last week.  So we are already looking forward to a release in 2009 with many shows and hopefully some overseas touring. 

 

On the live front, we have done many shows this year in Australia, in and around our base in Brisbane.  Some highlights were the sold out Beatles tribute night, supporting some great Australian and International bands, and launching our new single “Tripwires” at the Troubadour to a capacity crowd.  We’re playing our last show for the year this week and then taking a break for Christmas etc…  2009 will be an exciting one with the release of our 2nd album entitled “How We Survive.”  We hope everyone has a great Christmas and would like to wish everyone a successful and happy new year.  See you out on the road in 2009!!!

http://www.grandatlantic.org/

 

The Heise Bros

 

Country garage, indie rough n rock, the simple pleasure of the unfiltered alternative to the gloss and posing of much of the music industry. The Heise Bros, became , for NBT at least, the spiritual children of bands like the Replacements and the DBs.

 

2008, as The Heise Bros. see it:  It started off with a bang, very literally. On December 31st, Nelson’s wife was getting induced for labor while the brothers had a New Year’s Eve gig to play. Fortunately, the doctor’s assured Nelson and his wife that Paige Susan Heise would not be born until the morning of the next day, Nelson snuck out of the hospital for an hour and played the show and came back to his wife side (with her permission, of course). Paige was born around 9 AM on January 1st, 2008. So things started well as Nelson was a new father and Robert a new uncle. But that did not prevent the boys from putting out their annual album entitled “III: The Return of The Heise Bros.”, featuring their new band mate Matt Egger. The brothers played a handful of acoustic and electric shows in 2008 in support of the new effort, and remain as always an unknown treasure to see live.

2009, as The Heise Bros. see it. This upcoming year will feature the brothers other band, The Hit & Mrs., follow up record. This will feature longtime drummer V. Stak. This tends to display the more rockin’ side of the brothers. Right now, they are working on the vocals and mixes. For your listening pleasure, the brothers will let you hear one of the rough mixes on NBT with a song called “Saint Maria” and a VU cover. Enjoy!

www.theheisebros.com

www.thehitandmrs.com

www.100under60.com

Hemifran

For any broadcaster/podcaster/blogger/radio head honcho, Hemifran is a pure wonderful blessing.

Run with elegance by Peter Holmstedt, hemifran concentrates on getting independent music from around the world, heard in Europe. Many of the bands on this very blog and on the Wonderful Ones Podcast are sourced to NBT by this company.

http://www.hemifran.com

The Wonderful Ones 2008 continues HERE

https://nbtmusic.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/the-wonderful-ones-2008-part-two/

 

 

 

The NBT Review 13

Love Or Inertia – Amy Raasch (Independent Release)

This is a love letter to the lost, and a shy note to the soon to be found. Are the dreams of those left behind stronger than the realities of the empty spaces?

How do we cope with abandonment, how do we survive the silence, where there was once enough laughter and noise to fill our most scared moments.

Do we follow a ‘wild blueprint’ (as Raasch herself puts it) and try block out the creeping thoughts of isolation, do we smash into trees to get a super hero to save us,  or dive deep into steamy seduction and let sweat and touch confuse us.

Or do we write brittle beautiful songs and confront the shadows?

Raasch has an actors focus on the tiny movements of the soul, and enough belief in the hope that shines out every new dawn, to create songs of truth and regret and ultimately salvation.

No pity here, either for herself or the wounded heroes and heroines in her seductively sung stories, but so much compassion and understanding.

Find out more and buy this CD here.

http://www.amyraasch.com

 

She Sells Smiles EP – Gee Davey (Gee Davey Productions)

In the title track to ‘Stay Positive’ by the Hold Steady, the lyrics go, ‘’When the Youth Of Today and the early 7 Seconds/Taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons’’.

Now you may ask, why quote another bands new release while reviewing the Gee Davey EP.. well its all bout how Gee Davey fuses the fairly distant past (classic rock like the Doobie Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad) into the recent more alternative past (Husker Du, Screaming Trees) and by having learnt all those ‘valuable lessons’ about melody, roughness and hints of vulnerability, creating a set of songs that live and breathe in the now and connect to hardcore and pop fans alike.

In this EP there is all the thrill of the best of the 70s rock classics without any of the stupidity and over indulgence that era flirted with, and there is the danger and wicked grins of the noise of the 80s, without the awful flipside of over produced safe metal pop.

There is a love of grunge but a wonderful ability to kick away the narcissism  that riddled that genre, and an earthiness that kicks the contrived clean myspace models..I mean bands , where it hurts most.

Get this EP and earlier releases by this great band here

http://www.geedavey.com/

 

Catch tunes from both of these releases on this week’s podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

 

 

Magical Drama

sherimiller.jpg

An interview with singer/songwriter Sheri Miller who has just completed an EP of thought provoking/soulscratching tunes called ‘Mantra’

 NBT: In your bio:  you talk about listening to your mom singing Opera, and your uncle playing you tapes full of music from artists like Etta James, Diamanda Galas and Gypsy music. Now that is highly dramatic, very emotional and often even scary music. Do you think some of that wonderful drama has snuck its way into your own songwriting?

 Sheri: Oh definitely.  I love edgy, dark, magical drama- I’ve always been fascinated by the witches, monsters and “criminals” in fairytales, as I always feel a bit of compassion towards their situation (Hansel and Gretel was my favourite fairytale). I love embodying characters in songs and falling into that alternate dimension of being while performing.  Diamanda Galas is an incredible dramatic artist who sings in eerie high registers, is not afraid to offend “untouchable” taboo subjects like religion and government, and is a bit of a mystical shaman of sorts. I love her bravery. Etta James is pure guts, heart, and crimson roses with thorns.  Her soul and bluesy-ness has rubbed off on me, I’m pretty sure. Or so I hope!  

NBT: Who is more ‘You’ the strange almost calm internal of a Margaret Atwood or the thrilling but sad self-destructiveness of a Charles Bukowski?

 Sheri: Human beings are complex, diamond-faceted creatures, so I’d have to say both.  I do have strange calm-ness at times, Margaret Atwood in a way, when I’m really in touch with myself, and connected.  But I must admit I do have a sadder, more self-destructive side too- a tortured artist or self-saboteur, the Charles Bukowski side if you will. I think everyone has a saboteur in themselves-  not myself exclusively- but I try my best to watch myself all the time, so the murderous saboteur doesn’t pull me into the sewers of self-loathing, so easily. How did this conversation get so deep?  Jesus Christ!!

 NBT: If you wanted to, you could play somewhere almost every night of the week, when starting out how important was playing gigs to your development as a songwriter?

 Sheri: Huge!! Playing gigs and open mics completely sculpts you as a songwriter and artist.  I played open mics constantly in the beginning, and booked shows anywhere that would have me.  If you’re a player, you play, that’s what I say.  Play on, playa, in the words of Blackstreet.

 NBT: Joni Mitchell, quoted earlier this year, said ‘To be called a confessional writer is repugnant to me’ what are your thoughts on this. How personal do your lyrics get, or are they all ‘stories?’

 Sheri: Well, Joni Mitchell, I think, is maybe one of the best musical artists that’s ever lived, so it’s interesting to hear her viewpoint.  I know what she means by the “repugnance” of the term confessional writer. As writers we combine imagination, vision, life experience, and the world we walk through into our stories. Confessional seems so one-dimensional to me.  My lyrics are extremely personal while still being “stories.”

 NBT: Which of your own songs still thrills you after playing it a thousand times and why?

 Sheri:  Well, all of my songs can be thrilling after playing them a thousand times, if I can get into my headspace and character the moment I first wrote the song.  That’s where the emotional connection and the thrill lies.  Connection=thrilling. 

NBT:  I believe the future of an independent artist is very much linked with a good internet presence and a great deal of playing live OR Is the internet dumbing down, perhaps even killing traditional forms of popular music and business (as the major labels would have us think) or is it an attractive and viable way to get noticed. What do YOU believe is the way forward for an artist such as yourself in this 2008 world?

 Sheri:  Wow. Provocative questions!  Well, I’ve been known to have slight psychic tendencies, but the future is unknown and exciting and a tabula rasa for artists!  I believe we’re creating the future now- there’s no more dress rehearsals. I think having a great Internet presence is huge for artists now, and I’m constantly working on that myself.  The Internet is amazing in that it’s unlimited and you can connect with billions of people.  Who knows one day it may even me inter-planetary.  (I watched X-Files last night, so that’s my extra-terrestrial side talking).


If you’re an artist or songwriter, trying to create art in 2008, here’s my advice- make something honest and authentic- that is true for you.  Then put it out in as many places as you can on the internet- starting with Myspace, Facebook, etc. and going from there.  More than ever before, you can be as weird and bold and daring and artistic as you want, and create your own musical world!  Go for it!

 Sheri can be heard sharing songs and thoughts on this weeks NBT Podcasthttp://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

 

If you’d like to check out Sheri’s brand new CD, “Mantra” to buy as an album or download, please go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/sherimiller , iTunes or Amazon.com For more info on Sheri, please go to www.sherimiller.com or http://myspace.com/sherimiller 

The NBT Music Columns: Music and Politics

holly-bio-photo.jpg

Holly Wood aka musician/songwriterFat and Furry writes for NBTsee more of her incredible art and listen to her music here

www.artfangs.com

 Music and Politics 

The use of music to criticize and satirize the society we see around us is an impulse as old as the creation of music and song itself. Even the very first traveling bards and minstrels whose role it was to go from place to place bringing tribesmen and villagers up to date on the happenings in the wider world outside could not refrain from putting  a political spin on the battles and intrigues that they sang about. We see plenty of very graphic political and gossipy graffiti in places like the ruins of Pompeii, and it is not much of a stretch to imagine that there would always have been some wise-ass with a lyre or flute in the bars and tavernas taking pot shots at local political figures.  And of course, the catchier the music, the more people listened, remembered the song, and passed it around. In England and the US at least, our old Mother Goose nursery rhymes  are an historical treasure trove of period political doggerel and street songs; some dating all the way back to the Middle Ages.

 In ancient days bards and minstrels had a kind of immunity because they were carriers of the news that everyone needed to hear, and repositories of the history of a people. they got food and a place to sleep in return for their music. Even today, some ghost of that ancient immunity survives in the relative freedom of expression that musicians have to deal with touchy and inflammatory subjects, especially if it’s done with humor and wit. (but officer, captain, lieutenant, general- It’s just harmless entertainment! Just a silly – little – song!) George Bernard Shaw said “If you’re going  to tell the truth, you’d better make them laugh- Otherwise they’ll kill you.”

 In very repressive circumstances, political statements have had to be carefully couched and concealed in historical parallels, imaginary plots, almost in code. Constantly watched by the steely eye of Stalin, Dimitri Shostakovich said what he needed to say, even though his musical works were mercilessly picked apart word by word, almost note by note, by Stalin personally. He lived and composed in fear of his life, and his health was ruined because of it.

 But humorous or serious, music has a power that the forces of repression haven’t been able to kill. songs have the power to inspire and keep hope alive in a dark place. They have been passed from prisoner to prisoner. Of course, music has always been effectively used by the forces of repression as well. Who can deny the hypnotic power of a fascist anthem being shouted out by thousands of people at a rally (or concert)? However, when respective lyrics are examined, songs that are composed for ideologies of power and domination are empty posturing, designed to close your heart and make it hard. All the truth, beauty, and real inspiration is on the side of songs sung for an ideal. They expand your spirit, open your heart, and make you feel there’s something worth living for.

 All that being said, I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m a fan of drippy, sad-bastard faux-folk protest music. My personal motivational music is more like James Brown, Rammstein, and the one perfect album put out by the Electric Six, “Señor Smoke”.

 

Peace, love, courage- Holly Wood/Fat and Furry  

   woody-guthrie.jpg