The NBT Review 65

Song Selection from 88 Kilos Of Sunshine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go NOW and listen

http://www.reverbnation.com/88kilosofsunshine

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

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

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

http://nbtmusic.de/

Also check out a couple of tunes (if you use internet explorer) on the

http://nextbigthing.co.za website (after the intro just Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page).

The NBT Review 63

Second Chances – Danika Holmes (independent release)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen here: http://www.danikaholmes.com/

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

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 61

The Amplification Of Mr. Ballad

The Remix Of Mr. Ballad

The Bare Bones Of Mr. Ballad – All by Chapman (Creating Reality)

Songs have always been shape-shifters, play them in your child’s bedroom late evening and they are personal fragile things, a secret shared.  Play them out under the coloured lights, or in the pub or with a band and they are social creatures, sometimes playground madness, or sometimes a dinner party of thoughts.  Each instrument now adds a riddle to the secret, each drum beat or electric guitar melody or backing vocal agitates , reflects and deflects, the song seems warmer somehow, stronger, the fragile must now be listened for, the truth is now not just from one soul but many. Then play them stripped then clothed with coats of many colours, push them into electronica space, send them bouncing into the chaos of traffic and bodies bouncing in clubs, and the songs become puzzles, become tricksters become the sly one in a debate, become the dark one in a movie. The secret soul is still there it is just now a super hero leaving the mild mannered reporter back at the bar, no one knows who that masked man really is but oh they love the way he swoops, flies, shudders through the conflicted night. No one knows but many feel his goodness, danger, strangeness. Yes the soul is still there.

Space (and oh sadly; time) do not permit me to write about each song, each mutation, so at random I picked one and leave you dear curious listeners to go discover what lies beneath, within, around the others.

We first see ‘’Hum Along’’ as a pop country creature, the life affirming coda to a bittersweet saga, gentle, hopeful, the dark room illuminated by the warm glow of lamplight and restfulness. Then that bittersweet comes into sharper focus, the trials and the sadness and the mistakes now past but the wounds still sensitive, there is this hint that the singer will NOT contemplate his own destruction but now can finally understand why loved ones must fade from our reality, if not our dreams and love. The final version, takes that thought and changes it into a wicked grin of a thing, it’s a disco version of a relieved man’s  Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, of the youngster going ‘’Stuff Ya’’ and using his wild dance as a force against the end of things. Giddy and uplifting it is the sound of Fear being shot down with Joy.

There are ten more examples of this suburb creativity at play here and I highly recommend that all three albums be purchased and tracks played at random and let the shape-shifters work their magic.

Listen and buy here:

http://www.mrballad.com

Hear Chapman’s thoughts on his releases and tracks from all the sets this week on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th April.

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 59

Between Customers – Matt Keating (Red Parlor Records)

Keating constructs his songs like sketches that the artist keeps returning to,  adding details and colour and mood until the picture before you is a personal memoir, the simple perfect lines that tell all, recalling ‘’Darkness On The Edge Of Town’’ era Springsteen;  that fine balance between studio mastery and narrative grit.

He loves his characters, no matter how broken and flawed they may appear, affection and empathy shown in the turn of a verse and the way the strings slide comfortably to (old blanket on a cold night like)tangle delicate into some of the songs.

No scene is overstated, no drama played for giddy dramatics, there is craft here on display, as he strips away what does not need to be said and keeps the core, the finite details of what really matters.

There is steel in the sensitive, and yes the tunes are so damn pretty, but there is no impression of weakness, no concession to safety, no desire for blandness. If the songs soothe it is because they sing true not because they play nice.

Keating distills the world into intimate bulletins so the storm becomes the sigh in a fractured relationship; he makes the immeasurable understandable, touchable, he revives the art of telling just enough and telling all you need to know.

 Subtly descriptive in the way Don MacLean and few since have managed he brings the little bits of what he sees, (wherever he is) to us, making the telling of these tales seem effortless and the listening to them valuable.

Listen here:

http://www.mattkeating.com

Catch songs from this album on the NBT Podcasts going out on the 30th April,  13th and 20th May

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

Matt will also be playing concerts in Vienna with NBT favourites Richard Kapp and Cassis.. check the website for details.

The NBT Review 53

A Little Closer To The Truth – Dizzy Gotheca (Independent Release)

The first song is salvation. The music is fine tension wrapped around this (maybe) angel; I hear the end of the things for the ragged person she is singing to. Will she push him alive or is she taking him further down his destruction? It’s complicated yes, (she sings that and it is true) but it’s also simple. The First song is salvation.

The slow motion of the disco dancer, every detail of the dry ice, the coloured lights, the reflections the darkness just off the floor, the other tumblers tumbling, spinning too, are blurred howls, and every movement leaves delicate traces. You long for the explosion into focus, the release of pressure, but beauty like this has a price and instead you stay, still, entranced, haunted. This is Little Beat.

This is that angel watching an elegant version  of the hedonist game of drinking like its suicide, it is the vibrations of losing it forever and what is on the other side of those vibrations, the angel is the girl and the girl is questioning always questioning, and the music is stretched tight across the exits  allowing the thoughts,  the emotions,  to bounce there in the spaces of the room.

The drama is in the shadows, in the space, in the near empty, the indefinable drop, fall into this and allow yourself the freedom of not knowing, where this seduction will take you.

The musicians take this fear and make hymns. Modern electronic hymns.

http://www.dizzygotheca.com

Catch Dizzy Gotheca on the NBT Dark Electric podcast

http://nbtdarkelectric.podomatic.com/

Illusia – DarkLily (©Vyolette Svana)

Do you fear, but love the dreaming, the letting go? Do you dread and desire travelling into the strange virulent mists of some unknown ‘other’ world? Do you find this fear enchanting, and with deep breath and heart beating hard, wish to succumb utterly to it.

Then this collection is for you.

Sometimes we enter sepia tinged room full of old sunlight and hear the piano making crooked echoes against the cobwebbed experiments , sometimes we are shown through a haze, tragedy and despair, disasters from ‘ago’ taken from fading pages and made new, not shiny though, heartbreaking yes.

The gloom of mythology, the heaviness of this sweet relationship prison, in the drama and wonder of that hell, the singer/composer finds slithers of bright white hope in the sweet torment, makes it quietly erotic exotic mmmm we can almost hear her smile.

Deeply romantic, unafraid of the poetical, darklilly keeps her stories and sighs firmly rooted in the speculating, questing soul of the modern electronic artist. Her creations are measured and classical almost aloof, yet never too detached, they engage us, bombard us with thoughts and regret and deliverance.

You can download this exquisite album here:

 http://www.darklily.co.uk/

Illusia is the NBT album of the month for April

http://nbtmusic.de/page11.php

Darklily can be heard on the NBT Dark Electric podcast

http://nbtdarkelectric.podomatic.com/

AND the NBT Flagship podcast going out on the 1st April

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 52

(read a great review with Farrad on the NBT homepage.. http://nbtmusic.de/page4.php )

The Time Is Now – Farrad (Beulah’s Baby Entertainment)

Welcome to the Pop Dramatic, landing, bang in the centre of the smoke, wrapped in enigmatic articulate harmonies and covered by pressing bass squelch, Farrad displays his intent, his desire to capture our dance-Soul from the opening track, Misunderstood, a sly mix of Prince Gymnastics and the modern strut.

The cool thing is, Farrad doesn’t let the Tech, the FX and the Hustle drown out the soul, his sweet vocalizing holding sway, adding warmth to the extravagant arrangements.

And then the third track, an instant club classic, the one that makes you want to attempt complicated moves and boogie the night away, this is edgy delightful seductive bubblegum of the highest order, breathtaking and imaginative, simply Pick Your Face Up Off The Floor is one of the tracks of this year so far.

Now that he has captured us, the twist, the trip the worship of the beat continues, sure there are ghosts on this dance floor, in the neon reflections, but these spirits are fashionably in the NOW, fresh and alluring. With this set every track a potential single.

Listen out too for the electrifying ballad, Destiny, where the voice soars against shivers of strings, and some sultry gospel sneaks into the night waltz, and the surprise RocknNewWave of Twisted, where Farrad’s true sense of adventure shows itself in all its metallic sheen.

If this excellent collection isn’t enough for you, there is also a scintillating album of ‘’Pick Your Face Up Off The Floor’’ remixes available on Farrad’s Homepage.

http://farrad.com/

 Catch Trax from this collection on the NBT Podcast going out on the 16th March 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 50

With The Eye Of A Skeptic… – Bill Price (Grass Magoops Records)

This is old time Country dance, girl boy harmonies against a roots rocking band led by the jubilant skitter of the Cittern (a sort of large bodied mandolin.) This is not all though; this is the personal political, the thoughtful, the wishful, the dreamer making songs, the watcher singing.

We hear about the Junkman who learns about life in the bits and pieces he collects, the secrets we throw away without even knowing it. We debate within a blues swing room about the soul of modern art then to the strains of a lilting lullaby like tune we are taken flying.

In his dreams, in this flight,  years roll by jumbled, villains are given the chance to be heroes , history is scrambled and re-sighed re-written and hope is rescued from the cynic’s prison.

Price may see these things, these choices, with the eye of a skeptic, but his belief in good, in the right decisions maybe being made, the fact that the future is really fragile and can be broken into something beautiful; is what makes this collection a gift.

In the song ‘’Foot In The Dirt’’ the simple act, the lucid description of how it feels..Just to cast away the heavy of the day and ..Walk, touches this listener because that escape has often been MY escape too.

So jump slow and jump calm into these songs and stories, get caught up in the seemingly effortless virtuoso playing of all involved and welcome this gentle raconteur into your home.

http://www.billprice.info

Analog Love – Cassis and the Sympathies (Wunderblumenmusik)

Benign, serene coming down from the clouds willfully we slow dive into Analog Love, a neon lit lounge, default setting on sultry, though  soon enough we allow the lady to take our hand and dance us into a wide open cinema land.

This is new wave old romantic, ambient, impulsive, addictive, a darker Julee Cruise, a content Nico, still slightly dangerous, a sweetly lethal bubblegum, deep blue tripping over the rhythm disguised as sighs.

There is that skewed perspective that Lydia Lunch gave on Queen Of Siam, though this time the chanteuse is backed by a mixture of Yello and seemingly old time wicked jazz musicians playing for their souls.

In these songs disturbing desire is just, always JUST,  a finger click away. These are invitations to a languid version of Hell, an acceptably edgy version of Heaven. Piano and Accordion entice and bewitch in the guise of slick warped ballads, tears and escape, they urge us to close our eyes and

Sink.

A cool journey away from the modern normal.

http://www.cassisvision.com/

Hear Tracks from BOTH these albums on the NBT Podcast going out on the 23rd Feb 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/