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
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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’
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!