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
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!
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.
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.
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.‘
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!‘
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….’
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.
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.’‘
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…‘
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.
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.
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!!!
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
Lonnie Kjer and Stefan Mork
not content with releasing the haunting 13 songs, the band vid-blogged about it‘s creation, catch that here:
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.
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.‘
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!!!
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/