The NBT Review 37

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Songs Of Sins And Redemption – The Molenes (Independent Release)

Take in the purity of Roots Americana, dirty it lovingly with hints of feedback, splashes of political anger and huge gulps of driving rock n roll, and you have the first two tracks, the gateway into the world of very human very fragile saints, and  sometimes beautiful sometimes scary and sinister devils.

As just music this collection is oh so easy to fall in love with. There is not an instrument out of place, no arrangement over blown or underdone, and the nuanced interplay between musicians (who follow each others rhythms as instinctively as brothers) is thrilling.

Of course it’s not just about the playing and the tunes, but a journey towards the light with all the perilous thoughts and shadowy images that the odyssey entails.

Stealing from the track, ‘Bring the Bottle’ these are often snapshots onto a world that is ‘One Righteous bloody mess!’ and as the cover of the CD suggests, there is  an allure to the decay, there is something deeply uplifting in the fact that the broken souls will keep standing, keep moving on.

And the Molenes will be the dance band they party  loud to, in wicked stops along the way.

Find out more here

http://www.themolenes.com

And you can hear the Molenes on this episode of the NBT podcast

http://www.nextbigthing.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=495389

Foresight/Poorsight- The Johns (Ghost In The Cupboard)

Rewind the film, slowly. A train sneaks back tragic into a tunnel, and the sun slipSlides behind a cloud. With rolling thunder, the drama of ‘Sun For Days’ unrolls. This is the end. NO, actually this is a seductively brutal beginning.

The theme of loss continues, made strangely sweet with a power pop chug, kinda like Mathew Sweet fronting a new wave Byrds. These are songs about dancing as close to the edge as possible, sometimes accepting that the fall is the most wonderful thing, these are songs that SEEM to be about giving up, but look/listen closer and they are about surviving the dull chaos of break ups and fractured dreams.

The singer is a cynic, the singer is conflicted, and the singer is a romantic, he searches through the shudders of the songs, through leftovers of a rock n roll explosion, the shattered remains of affairs and love, and he tries to explore the truth of things. And with this band, these are his findings.

This is no one man quest though; this band is a whirling strumming thrumming beating heart of a music machine, creating swirls and harmonies, a subtle modern wall of noise.

Through the loneliness, this band wants to reach out and touch you.

Find out more here

http://www.thejohnschicago.com/

Catch songs from this album on this weeks NBT podcast.. Going out this Friday

http://www.nextbigthing.libsyn.com

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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/

 

 

The NBT Review 3

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Alphabet Blues EP – LowStar (Independent Release)

First there is guitar, like a lone rider coming out of the silent mist. Then an army of melody and emotion. We are taken over by the bangPOW rhythms and the glorious shouts of the chorus. This is how the title track wins the day.
Tribal drums and swirling guitar, vocals mixed in the heat of battle, the song ‘Drone’ continues the battle, and then the bassGLIDE intro of ‘Connected’ slides us into the aftermath, flowing and thoughtful.
A trio of shiny forceful rock songs.

http://www.lowstar.co.uk

Paper Tiger – Sean Fournier (Independent Release)

Fournier produces and plays all the instruments on this his second release, a subtle but multi layered love letter to the too often disregarded singer/songwriter world. We are invited to ‘step inside’ and the galloping guitar of a younger Paul Simon greets us. Even in its many dark moments, the warm and gentle (personal) voice makes the visit here a comforting one.
The songs are arranged with quiet skill and in the heartbreaking ‘she was the green’ the stark vocal sadness is wonderfully counterbalanced by the fade in and fade out of a fuller string and band canvas.
To prove that this isn’t some 70s folk rock homage, Fournier hits us with the wry and pleasantly rude Fiest like ‘Weathervane’ and the flamboyant bittersweet ‘Lie’ making this a collection of songs that lets out it secrets carefully and irresistibly.
There is nothing fake about the fragile here (listen to ‘Weak-I feel like Superman) and no self pity in its soft-smile honesty. And most important of all it has none of the smugness that artists like Jack Johnson let filter through when attempting moods similar to those on this release.

http://www.sean-fournier.com

Leaving Kansas – Holly Long (Skim Milk Productions)

The darkness of mortality and the brilliance of redemption, this is an album of personal strength and victory over fear and falling.
The stories captured here are sharply focused, uncluttered and so very real. This is no doom and gloom epic, but is also no shiny happy people holy missive, it realises that even in redemption there is space for dirt and truth.
And truth can be harsh, as in opening track, ‘Brokedown’ where no punches are pulled, but , Whether this is sung to the mirror or directed to another character, the words may just set the woman free.
And the singer knows that when she sings ‘Trust Me’ it cannot be wrapped in sweetness but must allow for the edge of darkness to be believed.
And the singer knows that to haunt (as in ‘bones’) is to seduce and where there is pain light will always follow. You can be saved by the romance of the harmony and the shimmer of the piano.
And
If anyone fails to be moved and drawn into the world of ‘He and I (For Truman)’ then that poor listener is lost indeed.
A beautifully dark uplifting release.

http://www.hollylong.com

Bilkis – Bilkis (independent release)

This is the sound of another world, a lo-fi sighing, almost dangerous world. It is the sound of a glass world, a mirror world about to shatter from vibrations and whispers. It is a mix of the scary gypsy queen and the fragile fairy princess.
These are songs stolen shy from reflections upon nervous water.
These are magic chants, revealing what hides beneath the dreaming lovers eyelids.
These are gently twisted Pop songs, they rumble and roll using Folk as a mere departure point
And in ‘make me happy’ lies the secret of Bilkis, tunes that drift by the soul, then dart sideways , sinking sneaking in, and when u go to sleep tonight dear listener
The soundtrack to this other world shall be playing.

http://www.myspace.com/bilkis

Hear these Artists either on the 3rd April NBT Podcast or the 10th April Show.

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com