The NBT Review 77

Heavy Water Experiments – Heavy Water Experiments (Intrepid Sound Recordings)

Sometimes the elements connect in just the right way and surround the listener with the right mood, environment, in which better to discover new music. Today as I explore this collection, the heat wave pulses, the road works outside shake and shout, in fact the whole damn day positively VIBRATES as I press play.

Welcome to the disturbance, it’s going to be a fine ride indeed.

This is the sound of a mirage, gentle shimmer of unreality, then that heat (now here in the speakers) explodes outwards, the dream figures melt, the colours collide, mesh frantic, the drums tiptoe up top the flames, and the song settles into an agitating lullaby. The vocals shift into focus, the harmonies subtle, and within all this fine magic, pop melodies strain against the ‘difference’.

Like a storm sneaking into the glare of a summer’s day, this band thrives on the ambiguity of it all, glorious messy mix of the chaos in the Jam and the structure of the song craft.

They let the instruments roar, and sing as people used to flying, finding the swoops and danger above somehow calming. There is a scent of the Psychedelic madness here, a tension grown from the soon to be freedom of the willfully frantic.

It is a place where the ghost of a traffic jam is filtered over the serenity of a deep forest, where the grit and grandeur of a festival edging into sunset along the howls of guitars is superimposed over forgotten photos of homes long lost by destructive lovers.

Never clumsy enough to be mistaken for simple hard rock, never bland enough to please those that seek the new age as a refuge from the difficult, it is an invitation to let go, to ride the hallucination bare back, to get fierce, to go crazy.

A LOT to discover here.

Catch Tunes from the Album on the NBt podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

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


  (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:


The NBT Review 58

Time Is Fun When You’re Having Flies – AfterThem

AfterThem – AfterThem (Both Independent Releases)


Your soul is conflicted, you want danger, you want to be provoked made tense, alert by the music coming to you, want to feel demands are being made, that on the other side of this listening experience you come out changed wiser maybe, crazier surely.


You also want to be warm, cuddly cuddled, want to be asked to pogo/dance/swing by that cute strange girl with the blue hair and piercing eyes, want to hum the hooks, grin that huge lazy grin you practiced, and most of all, charmed.

It seems like AfterThem is the band for you.

Within one tune you maybe gently rocked by a tropical breeze while being set on edge by sharp knife drill worthy of latter day Coltrane when he was bornAgainRadical. Within another the scratchy ghost of a Dr John look-a-like rumbles fiery against a slowed down Talking Heads (Eno period) minimal groove.

The funk here is all angles and spiky shiny jewelries dropped into messy bubbling stew, modern black magic indeed.

For the self titled album (which disc came first? And does it matter?) Female vocals are slid far down in the mix a delight for those who ever wondered what Jefferson Airplane might sound like fronting an extremely busy lo-fi Pavement. This selection rocks slightly harder than ‘’time’’ and brings the dirt to the fore, but the sharper focus of the other set clicks it slightly harder as the more rewarding listen.

Both sets though pleasure the brave listener

You can hear tracks from both albums on the NBT podcasts

6th May on our flagship cast
 5th may on the NBT Dark Electric

The NBT Review 41


Here She Comes a Tumblin’ – BirdEatsBaby (Birdeatsbaby)

Once there was Cat-Scratch Glitter and wounded cabaret howls, charged shots of glowing liquid poured across lips of the harshest red. Everything shuddered, everything shivered, and the laughter was strange and sometimes cruel.

It was beautiful.

Now keeping those thrills, but adding extra dimensions, comes this collection.

Bravely, we are now not only shown the garish stage and the freaks, puppets, divas, exhibitionists, scary sexy monsters but… the quiet bedrooms, the rumpled beds where partners may or may not sleep, the view of empty streets from its lonely windows.

We are made curious about the sadness, the stillness that may go on BETWEEN these songs.

Make no mistake this is still a thrill ride, full of carnival hipsters hustling supreme, and frantic punters screaming along with the dangerous rides, but here, and there, and here again, not so hidden away, the girls and boys dare to show their tenderness, even their dreams, unfolded carefully and placed in our grubby hands.

On one page selling this CD they are described as emo, but please don’t be fooled, there is no soft boy rich kid pampered star angstNwhines here. The lipstick is smeared from the sheer exuberant kiss and the eyeliner stains are from tears arrived honestly from fits of giggles and tears that fought hard to escape the calm internal.

There are pop songs to be sung loud by party girls, alive and free holding tight to the simple expectation of a great night out, and there are lullabies of the crooked kind that soothe and push the soul into a welcome unease with extra measure.

There is magic here. Give it a listen to.

Karkari –Mammut (Record Records)

I could tell you that Mammut sound like a frosty and refreshing mix of the best of those American 4AD groups (Belly and Throwing Muses) a bit of Bjork, a spoonful of Sonic Youth twisted into the pop sensibilities that Catatonia got so right. I could tell you that the band has had (already)  three number one hits in their native Iceland and managed to cause a stir at the SXSW festival. I could leave it at that, and move on, pretty happy that you curious gentle reader, will go seek out the band and their music. Or you could think I am spitting out (politely of course) a bunch of facts and you will remain sadly disenthralled.

I shall instead shake the songs up in a virtual hat of the finest cloth, and let them hit the senses, and report what occurs.

I am reminded of old toys, cherished by teenagers in smiling nostalgia for their innocent child hood, toys that are still picked up and loved and kept in view as new makeup is applied and new adventures of the heart dreamt about. These plaything have an endearing roughness to them, all is not shiny shiny and plastic disposable.

I think of glam rock bands strutting their stuff on small Televisions in untidy sitting rooms early Friday evenings, the smell of dinner overpowered by the sweeter smell of the night (clubs) ahead.

Some songs make me think of mosh pits and bodies and beer bottles disengaging themselves from sweaty hands and crashing kamikaze to the pavement to join the wrecks of their fellow soldiers. Some songs make me think of almost empty studios, musicians huddled in the centre of a landscape of once twisting now still cables and wires and leads.

Some songs make me close my eyes and fall back, not thinking of the getting UP. Some songs make me want to grin and cook and dance and shop.

See what they do for you


Catch both bands on this NBT podcast

With much more to come.

The NBT Review 36


Heart Anchors  – Dune Tran (Independent Release)

Think of a movie. The beach at dawn, the film sped up, the sun thrown UP out of the darkness into the sky, the waves crashing senseless lonely.

Think of this movie. The 1st track of this tender collection is the soundtrack to that movie.

The movie slides into sepia crackle, and we see a young girl skip, dance kinda innocent, then falter walk backwards, the weight of the questions push at her, almost stop the shimmy, too much passion here though, the dance continue, the kites fly.

She can’t help herself she wants to always to hop, canter, swing herself around, then the Internal of the song takes her, things get slower, she allows herself to fall, hoping no, knowing, the music will catch her.

Time shifts, TimeChanges, this is sparkles, sparkling in the darkness illuminating lost lovers sitting quiet on cluttered couches, memories craving release.

Her songs are complicated things who wear a subtle orchestration, they are ballet dancers, half child half ghost.

Imagine another movie. A window, a fluttering curtain, the night sky, now here, now hidden.

She sings from another room, where moonlight shines through another window.

She invites you to dream.

Find out more here

My Blacks Don’t Match – Darren Gaines and the Key Party (Independent Release)

Oh I adore this dirty Swing.

Gaines takes his ragged words and pokes them into the skin of proudly bruised songs, howling poetic, scaring the neighbors while seducing their daughters.

Track ‘She Says She Does’ is a poker game between Jim Carroll and Lou Reed, the shock sweetened by jiving horns and vocalist/violinist Sara Syms adding grace to the battle.

This is an alternate universe’s Blues Brothers, who kept their love of classical soul, but shared a beer or twenty with Joe Strummer and played messy and murky with Patti Smith.

While the swagger is infectious, this music has heart too, huge beating bleeding wanting pounding.

There is a true sense of urban epic in these songs that match a beautiful and honest story telling, images, harsh, vivid, intensely moving, completely unforgettable, spill out of the tunes and skitter restlessly around the listener’s soul.

Already, for me, an album of the year.

Find out for yourself

Hear Darren Gaines and the Key Party on this episode of the NBT Podcast

and Dune Tran on this weeks broadcast (either Thursday or Friday)

The NBT Review 29


Springboard –The Water Callers (Independent Release)

And so we shuffle soft into the music, watching the couples sway lightheaded, giddy, entranced by the rhythms of a ‘Night Like This’ and ‘Mama’

 We are soon to discover that this is not JUST a dance band fashioned old.

As we are seduced by the sparkles of reflected mirror, polished hazy from times somewhere long ago, we are startled by what seems to be the ghosts of the Band when Levon Helm took them to a rougher sweeter darker place. This is the Duo, The Water Callers, who initiate this sound, these voices that sometimes wrap warm and bright, sometimes pulse desolate.

Not dusty sepia antiquated, this music still is not afraid to take you back to less rumbling shallow times, though there is an ambiguity in the harmonies offering both honey covered Hope, and frissons of ambrosial Peril.

And as the Lullaby morphs onto cinematic swaggering Ballad, and the Electric kisses and nibbles dirty into the Acoustics’ ear, we walk out into the comfort of the full moon, the music refusing to let go,

Get caught up for yourself

One Thousand Words – Jenny Gunn (Independent Release/Asoma)

Slip into the Dreaming here, the place of the flickering restless shadows, where the flute, carnal, strangely skittish, reverberates around the voice of the magic maker, the seeker of the secret inside the heart of the incorporeal.

This is the mystical other world, the world that overlaps ours, full of the grey brash ordinary, coated with the reds and blues and scares of her imagination.

She is the Monster-Finder, the Creature friend, who sings in fairy tale sighs. She will be compared to Joanna Newsome or Victoria Williams, but as her name suggests she is her own real spirit, forged in the harsh modern but free to fly, sidestep, into this agitated wonder reverie.

Never has the storm been so soothing while it frightens.

Jenny Gunn’s dream world opens up here

Hear both these artists on the NBT podcast this Friday 17th April


The NBT Review 24


Trey Green  – Trey Green (El Stormo Productions)

Comedy in rock is a delicate and not usually successful balancing act. At one extreme the content is highly intellectual and/or highly politicized, great stuff for the chin strokers amongst us, but not warm enough for the masses, Or, the artist dumbs down his material, so that it becomes the equivalent of red neck kids dissing each other in the classroom.

1st (quick glance) at the cover and we take in the 50s hair and the cool dark glasses and the working class white T, and we wonder if there will be some kid rock style rock’n’laughter coming our way.

2nd (longer look) at the cover and we see no Illiterate Sneer, no Artless Hyuck-Hyuck, rather a wry self awareness and maybe, yes maybe a smidgen or three of sensitivity.

Time to listen.

The second look proves correct, what we have is a kinder Warren Zevon without the bitterness,  even when singing about what is probably one of the worst girlfriends on pop/Rock song history.

The thing is, the truly captivating thing is, Green is comfortable in the skin of the MUSIC within these song-stories, His band rocks out full and dirty but never leering or sleazy, there are more hooks per ounce than the best crafted Happy Punk missive from  Green Day, just with a total lack of eyeliner angst..YAY..

To this reviewer though, the songs that slip under the soul’s Skin are the serious tales like Last Flight, a haunting missive of some war, some lost fighter pilot and his crew, an epic in 3 minutes.

The gloom doesn’t last too long though, straight after comes a song that seems to have slipped away from a Joe Walsh solo album, mad crush indeed.

There are about 11 potential singles on this 11 track disc.

What are you waiting for? Go check it out.


Bix Medard – Bix Medard (independent release)

Sometimes, the darkest place we know lies deep beneath the shiny glowing surface of our perfect pop heart.

The two cover songs in this otherwise wonderfully ‘all originals’ set are a take on the fragile tragic beauty and strength of a Josephine Baker standard, and a cute mischievous capture of a song that enigma and crazy 50s kitten Eartha Kitt brought to the worlds attention.

The drama starts straight away, barely there waves of piano, bass and a skittering scary percussion slide up against the sweet breathy vocalizing and then flute, just escaping from an ancient movie, and then,

the shadows take over.

And how those shadows dance.

These rhythms, these candleFlicker ghosts disturb and seduce, songs of fluid dangerous hours with a partner you are not quite sure of, but very much want to spend the evening with.

This danger is addictive.

Not since Keren Ann’s No-Lita have I been so quietly and completely captured.

Find out more and buy this amazing release here

Hear both these Acts on the Ever Eclectic NBT Podcast this Friday 20th March 09






The NBT Review 22


 Dag För Dag (Pre-Release EP)

Within the tension of the restrained feedback, do we hear playground ghosts?

The girl sings loud fierce in empty spaces, abandoned industrial rooms, there seems to be no standing still, arms in self hug internal, but a glorious dance and sway.

The echo of the drama, the theatre of the letting go.

Post rock, Post Modern, post sticky useless labels, a touch of young marble giants here, a shatter of newNew wave, beautiful voice and dirty guitars, Isolated Pirates on a scrawled animated Sea.

Then fragile Words. A country ballad refracted, reflected, distorted; the harmonies of light and dark.

Thank God it’s better now, this indie world, where subtle dark moments created with such seeming ease can drift across our computers and our homes, new best friends in the hard days to come.

A superb collection.

Catch the band across Europe and at the SXSW festival and watch out for a review of their upcoming gig with the Handsome Furs at Gebaude 9 in Cologne in April.

Look/Listen closer

Dark Mist EP – Marilyn Roxie (Independent Release)

Ahh, the heartbreak of the clockwork toy. As a child I couldn’t help but notice that even the jolliest of tunes was somehow rendered some what melancholic when played from a music box and in the opening track of this EP Marilyn Roxie captures that feeling with sweet simplicity.

This is a set of miniature sound poems, soundtracks perhaps to long lost TV shows, fragmented by the click of the remote, making a secret kinda sense as they flicker across midnight heavy living rooms.

Some are gone before we even realize it, leaving but a spirit, an essence of otherworldly loss and emotion, others are more complicated, sliding the fear and the danger and the soul across us, trapping us willingly deep into their stories.

Stand out track for me is Green Leather with its intimate eastern tinges and seductive swoon.

Minimal as this fine music is, in each tune there remains, in each new listen, a wealth of images and thoughts to discover.

Go to Marilyn Roxie’s MySpace and get this and many more EPS. And read her great blog as well

(Love) An Asylum Amongst The Convulsions – Jordan T West (Independent Release)

This has been the long slow sultry season of the male/female Duet, especially for those who craft their songwriting with a country or shy folk slant, and the opening track of this thoughtful collection continues this trend.

In ‘The Procreation Song’, as well several other tracks here, West’s whispering vocals are counterpointed by the haunting clarity of Lindy Enns, at once removing the clutter of preconceptions and inviting the listener to join in this small circle of casual confessions.

As we continue into ‘lucky number 9` the isolated instruments warmly join together, sliding into introspective side of jaunty, and when the sad violin sneaks up to, lies down with, the minimal percussion of stand out track ‘Heart Hurts’ we are moved, captured and confided with.

The lyrics set out personal sagas of ambiguity, people do sad, silly hurtful things, but the singer remains hopeful, remains true to the power of what love might bring him, them, and us.

There is strength in this gentleness.

Find out more here


Hush – Claire Holley (Independent Release)

It starts with an escape.

A solitary woman alone but not alone, the world around her perfectly described and formed within the song.

Then as if old photos of happy people burn strangely into something else, we wonder about the unspoken tragedy(in the minds eye,  a double image of funerals superimposed )that lies throbbing, thrumming at the heart of ‘Wedding Day’.

The skill of the songwriting is breathtaking.

These are songs that Neko  Case or even Chan Marshall would be proud of, showing a attention to detail and atmosphere and proudly sigh fully entranced with the  sound of country music storytelling.

From the blues tinged ‘Stars fell on Alabama’ to the Guitar driven gentle instrumental, the haunting ‘Going West’ this performer never falters , never sinks into cliché.

It ends with an escape.

Into the comfort of dreams, safe in the knowledge of the mothers love, the song’s love. We watch we listen, from the doorway perhaps, and calmness descends.

Investigate further

Hear all these artists next week on the NBT Podcast (20th Feb)