RISE ROCKETED

water on canvass

by Helge Janssen

You can hear tracks from the Band on the NBTMusicRadio’s MirrorBall Sessions every night at 10 PM Berlin Time (9 PM UK 4 PM New York) http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com

Headlining the Easter Festivities @ the Bluff Yacht Club on Saturday 30 March was Durban’s dance Rock Electronica band Rise. It was a surprise to discover the Bluff Yacht Club as an idyllic oasis nestled amongst the core of Durban’s heavy pantechnicons and crate carrying trucks to and from the cargo holds of freight ships. The predicted rain backed off and the evening turned out to be a no-wind perfect out-door late summer event!

Opening the set was acoustic guitarist Tony Liddel. Tony has an ease of presence and good command of his cover material. A Crowded House and U2 fan, he soon had the audience relaxed and singing along! It would be wondrous to catch him singing his own material.

The last time I saw Rise perform was at Origin about two years ago at the launch of “Water on Canvas” when the line-up consisted of Martin McHale (DJ, programming), Kerry Wood (lead singer) and Colin Peddie (guitars, backing vocals). They have since notched up huge successes playing massive outdoor events and festivals. However, Martin (ex 330) has left the band and has turned his energies into managing the direction of Origin Nightclub. Filling this huge and difficult gap with aplomb is Donna Peddie (keyboards, backing vocals, percussion (including drum pad) and Dan Wilson (bass). Dan was absent from this Bluff gig as he was at Splashy supporting featured guest artist, Ant Cawthorn-Blazeby.

RISE,1

Rise has progressed to become the premier dance Electronica band of Durban…if not SA….and have rocketed their way into the ever present with their growing innovation, their layered musical constructions that overlap and extend the depth of the aural experience taking the discerning listener into an exciting multi-dimensional territory. Delving into this most important yet largely neglected base (within the average S.A. band) has had a profound effect on Rise’s confidence. With perfect vocal pitch and texture Kerry has thus been freed to spread her wings more broadly, allowing her voice to play with the instruments and richness presented, all of which decisively matches her gift at every level. Added to this, Kerry has a performance energy of unpretentious earthiness and drive and she is exuberance personified. At this gig she had the audience begging for more…and more…and more….

Colin’s guitar work startles! Taking the jangly bits of the Cure influences and mixing it with the driving rhythms of the best of New Order he has found a sound unique to Rise. This live version of ‘All We Have Is Now’ was electrifying! In the highly competitive world music scenario this transformation is no mean feat and it would be interesting to see if this groundbreaking work becomes the well earned stepping stone towards an international stage.

COLIN PEDDIE - lead guitar

Of deep import too have been the subtle yet compulsive melodies of Donna’s discoveries, and her percussive range wings a relationship within the rhythms that are inventive and fresh. She is quiet and unassuming yet displays great strength and focus.

The expansive, inclusive lyrics (“Be The Change” still seems largely under-rated in my humble opinion!) gives body to their work enabling the band to find an important niche in the current politico/social context. “Pop Tart” has been cleverly contextualised to deliver a decisive blow to the shallow meanderings of the corporate music scene by surrendering completely with the pay-off line: ”I believe all the lies…” and deserves to be their next big hit!

Rise is rock solid! They have transcended their respective influences and are creating a unique contribution to the South African music scene.

I could not agree more with a fan statement on Reverbnation: “There are no borders in music when looking for beauty. Feel the beauty of music forever.” Respect and support from I&SON.

Buy their album: “Water on Canvass!” Support their live performances! You will be uplifted and energised!

A live album surely would be the next best thing!

https://www.facebook.com/letitrise?fref=ts

www.riseband.co.za

Lou Gottini (0824589653) booking agent and general manager.

The NBT Review 104

From Space She Came… – 19 Mirrors (Independent Release)

Battle synths of the pop republic! Marching along to a Joy Division beat the pure vocals bewitch and beguile, the light sitting strangely comfortably on top of what is a very nihilistic piece. This is ‘I’d Rather Die’ a song that is full of nervous tension, hurtling sweetly towards a glorious panic attack.

It is this keen sense of the insecurity hiding behind our chaotic lives that elevate these songs, this band, above the massive flow of the Ordinary boys and girls that populate the indie airwaves these days.

Succubus Love starts out with a 90s house glee, morphs into a new wave rock thing before settling down into a modern cautionary tale, encouraging the kind of abandoned jerky dance that the truly cool or the truly crazy get up to in those way too bright clubs existing on the far side of midnight.

We come now to the track that made into the 2010 nbt ‘best of’ list. ‘The Key’ is brutal beautiful a disturbance in the force, again playing the glow against the grime, the innocent against the sordid. Wicked with relish, oh yes.

19 Mirrors get it right, they dare to mix Morodor style electro over incandescent Blondie meets Metal, the type of song that 14 year old girls take to their soul while waiting for their very first heartbreak, the type of song, those older never wiser deviants bounce along to on their way to the next adventure.

Each of these 6 tracks have the potential that the late lamented Long Blondes showed the world, each track is a hit, a single, a chart-topper, in outer space and down here on earth, where this music makes the mundane more bearable, makes the day shorter and the night more alive.

Go find out for yourself

http://www.reverbnation.com/19mirrors#

http://www.facebook.com/pages/19-Mirrors/97860389218

Tracks from this EP and thoughts from the band will be revealed
on the NBT podcast this coming Thursday

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

The NBT Review 103

Smash My Box/Electroboxx –iCON (independent release)

You get a set of songs to review, you play the first track and think you know where you are now heading, think you know what the mood of the piece will be, what degrees of crazy the writing will fall into to suit the music. Think you know whether vibrant short shots will suit, or rather languid thoughtful sighs perhaps.

Then you get these swell indie chameleons and your journey is thrown into delicious disarray.

Oh the strobe lights strut, the glitter-cool. From the first seconds of ‘Do or Die Moon’ it is clear this is no shy shuffle, no shoegaze insecure, and no bedroom anti-social. This is bright bang (pow !)party music.
Ok I know this band. I think I Know where they fit.

Ok NO.

Here comes the 1st of many gratifying curveballs. Next track up is nothing like that. ‘Giant’ slides into focus over delicate piano and builds into a Tori Amos meets Siouxsie chart contender, the kind of glossy not quite ballad full of hooks and surprises that make good pop music so refreshing

This is a band equally at home, playing the mainstream but coming out proud and uncorrupted, or creating songs awash with strings and dramatic arrangements where the shift from club gigs to stadium dates is inevitable.

The Electroboxx tracks show yet another side to the band, now they are Disco Darlings, with a soupcon of camp, a dose of day glo funk(you know the kind that Prince would dreamWrite and CSS managed on their first album) and an honest love of the fun side of Bubblegum- Rock.

Brought to the attention of the right listener, this is a band that could easily make up for the disappointment of, say, the new TingTings album and dominate the airwaves in 2011.

Personal fave for me is ‘Take You Back’ a driving dance mix ten parts giddy, hundred parts exuberance.

http://www.myspace.com/iconsmashmybox

Tracks from these EPs will be featured on both NBT podcasts
this week and next week

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

 

 

 

 

The NBt Review 101

All this cool music. There may be a crisis within the music industry, but the independents are sure doing their best to make it a vibrant exciting world of sound.

All reviews except where noted are by Martin Smit of the NBT Project.

Fever Changing –WarTapes (Independent Release)

Hurtling forwards the music the singing is twisted and detached, look for the poignant hidden behind the frantic modern hustle. This machine gets dirty gets rusty, rumbles and roars and the humans who drive it through to us, are flawed, vulnerable, brave, continually invigorated by the power of the melody, the impact of the thoughts.

It is only PoP isn’t it?

Or do these fierce songs display a lot more? Simple answer:oh yes.

The title track screams into existence, all piercing industrial guitar slithering over a dense mix, the beat shuffles shy, hesitant, the girl almost lost in the roar, but it is this subliminal purity easing its way out, that touches us.

We start to think we know what will come next, but the band gleefully throws out their very best curveball (Silhouette) and suddenly we aretaken back to an innocent new romantic dance floor, memories of pastel tinted videos and hooks to dream about. While personally preferring the WAR in the Wartapes, I can imagine many a radio programmer latching onto this track with a sigh and even a giggle.

For me though, the twitchy beguiling hit of the oncoming winter will be the nervous buzz of ‘Do You Ever Think Of Me,’ a song blessed with a melody as catchy as anything Saint Etienne ever created.

All in all this a set of songs that will appeal to the timid first time traveller into the indie world (welcome dark cool days ahead!) and to those fine hedonists that crave just another spoonful of edgy.

http://www.facebook.com/wartapes

Marco Mahler – Design in Quick Rotation (Full Album)

A review from Cobus Rossouw on Marco’s earlier release.

A review on his latest can be found here

My previousreview of the Marco Mahler instrumental efforts talked to the musical qualities of the album. The major difference between the two efforts is, obviously, the addition of vocals. It would therefore seem that the review would be as simple as commenting on the vocals and this review would be done. Perhaps. But then life happens.

I have been pondering this review for a couple of days. I thought about writing about similar vocal styles (Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples, Lou Reed et al, the fragile honest vocals some of us need to remind us that it’s not always about the technical ability). I thought about describing my unending love affair with lo-fi… but, honestly, it would sell the entire experience short, simply because a mechanistic description of the vocals or a blatant attempt at showing off how much I know about music would ignore what music is about. It’s how it makes you feel, and it’s easy to forget when you’re reviewing.

In short –this album makes me happy. I’ve had a tough few weeks and maybe this has nothing to do with you, dear reader, but if you need some music that’ll take you away, somewhere other than where you are, then Marco’s got the remedy for you. I’d get into the car and drive away from the hospital, turn on the music and select track 3, “Orange Chinese Car”. In a matter of seconds I am already feeling better, I know things will be ok and I can come back again tomorrow and face it. That’s worth the price of admission.

Somewhere in the tapestry of themes Marco has tapped into something healing and I thank him for this personally.

This album will not be for everybody. It’s not overproduced, it has no star names, no rousing choruses, no drum or guitar solos, there’s no spandex or big hair but there’s heart and soul in plentiful supply. I can’t single out any other tracks, because from Think Tank through to 1’s and 0’s, Go Crocodile and theother 6 they all dish out the same medicine, albeit in unique and interesting ways.

I want everybody to buy this album. Come on, reach into your pocket and buy it. Buy it because the Marco Mahlers of the world must keep on making music.

http://www.marcomahler.com/

End Of An Era – Carta Marina (Independent Release)

Let’s be thankful there are still bands making this sort of uncontrived anthem, slow building tunes full of heart and song craft. Songs that first time lovers can slow dance to and those weary few can get past their heartbreak with. This is a gentle youthful often rocking rolling set that is easy to dive into, sing along to.

The production is crisp and charming, the refined jangle of the guitar placed foremost in the mix, the voice soothing seemingly effortless, the lyrics( never getting anywhere near to angst) deal with matters of the personal with a commendable lightness of touch.

But if I give the impression that this is a swim through the mainstream, think again, sure some of the songs ARE a brand of alt rock that will please and soothe the masses (and this is NO bad thing), but then there are others like the two long instrumental compositions ‘Death Blossom’ and the title track which melds a delicate ambience onto elegantly restrained workouts, creating a satisfying tension anddrama.

As with the best music of this type, it is the surprises, the subtle gifts given each listen that make this EP so rewarding

http://cartamarina.bandcamp.com/

Hear trax from all these albums on Podcasts going out in November on NBT (the 12th,
18th and 25th)

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

Oh and finally NBT is on facebook.. go and ‘like the page already!

http://www.facebook.com/NBTmusicproject

The NBT Review 89

another review from Cobus Rossouw creator of 88 Kilos of Sunshine

Aaron English – American [Fever] Dream

Other sites (which shall remain nameless) recommend Aaron English to fans of Sting, Peter Gabriel and Dead can Dance. I can’t fault this assessment although I suspect there is a far more diverse audience in his future.

Aaron English is a piano man, rather than a guitar man and this has a clear influence on his songwriting. Melodies are more intricate than the traditional guitar-based singer-songwriter, and the production has more depth and more tapestry than rock.

This collection of songs, a comeback after an unfortunate accident, clearly illustrates his writing, playing and vocal talents. His voice, so apt for illustrating loss and pain, soars into triumph over beautifully constructed choruses.

Lyrically the album is strong although it does fall into the obvious. There are also moments that jarred me, such as the chosen arrangement for “God bless you and your man” which seems a playful treatment of a serious subject (although perhaps I am not getting the irony).

“Believe in me”, which opens the album showcases all the promise but leaves a hunger behind. On his website English recounts a story about this song involving his niece. I think I agree with this story, and I think it makes this song more than it seems at first. Read about it here: http://www.aaronenglish.com/lyrics_believe.html

And then… perhaps the single best line I have heard on an album this year… “…but you play hard to forget…” Lines like these are not the products of intellect; they’re the product of experience. The lyric, from “Sleight of Heart” is simple, beautiful and launches a grand melody for the chorus with English’ vocals perfectly counterbalanced by Leah Siegel and Scott Adams. I find myself skipping to this track time and again, the melody on my lips constantly. This is all I could ever want from music.

In moments like these English becomes more than a piano man, becomes the artist that he has all the ability to be. I would urge English to follow on this song in particular if he wants to produce great art and I would urge you all to get out there and buy this album if only for Sleight of Heart and the eloquent desperation of “The Name of this Song is a Secret”, which hauls me into the artist’s world, which is where I want to be when I listen to the album.

Aaron English is featured on NBT Podcasts during September

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

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

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (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:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 88

The Scorpion In The Story – Tori Sparks (Glass Mountain Records)

Every time you listen to a piece of music you are entering into a journey. Depending on the art and talent of the creator, the songs will take you to places away from where you sit and listen. Sometimes they will take you to truth and knowledge deep inside of yourself, secrets you didn’t even know you had, sometimes they will take you on adventures, show you strange souls, show you the ragged wonder hiding behind the ordinary blur too many of us take for granted.

Without really setting out to do so, Tori Sparks has concocted a set of stories about places she has traveled through while performing across the USA, observing in fragments and miniatures the ever ongoing battles and victories of those curious mortals that live and strive and love there.

We observe along side her and learn with her, not just about the things she sees, but the way they touch her inside. So in a way dear listener this is really thirteen chapters, all about, You.

 Chapter one: On a choral whisper/grunt, over sleepy sly upright bass, and sweetly clear banjo, we slide into the slow focus dream of the perfect man, the perfect address, then as the song blossoms into full giddy country dance the wry truth tumbles gleefully in, the fairytale shimmer is blown away.

Refreshing.

Chapter Two: Does she escape these cascading photographs, black and white reminders, she drives fast but distance was never the cure for the ghosts in the past.

Chapter Three: As the honky tonk Taxman riff sashays around, the free girl sings in the voice of the trapped girl, what is she trapped by, by her lovers failed ambition, that’s a strong prison right there.

Chapter Four:  we mostly choose those who will make us safe, not those who make us happy. Slow dance of regret

Chapter Five: this is a minor epic, the singer tells of a life lived small and long, of the years of holding in, the singer can only respond with a song that breathes and yearns wide, she paints this brittle soul as if it were the entire world.

Chapter Six:  one of the stand out tracks, reminds one of the ‘other’ tori, but with less waft and with more dirt on her fingertips, this is the tears, then the smile through the tears, then the ‘what the hey!’ after the tears , get back on, this time around will be fun no matter what. This contains that secret ingredient of a hit song, the enjoyable heartbreak.

Chapter Seven:  Oh yes the Devil is such a charming man.

Chapter Eight:  the self image of the wild girl, after the chaos of the loud night, the quiet scary look at  the villain that may not even be there.

(All this to music that ties itself with understanding, to every word.)

Chapter Nine: look closer there are shadows in this picture of the sunlit couple.

Chapter Ten: the skill here is how she takes the story on, from the start of the disaster, and then travels on, she wants to ride the shockwaves, the afterglow, rather than the obvious big bang.

Chapter Eleven:  with a few lines the internal machine of the odd couple is caught, roots Americana  the Dixie Dregs  would be proud of.

Chapter Twelve:  Another hit in the dreaming, the subliminal brass touches deep inside, why is this not a mainstay on all the alternative playlists?

Chapter Thirteen: no not the end, cause this song makes you want to simply start the album again, come dance, come think, come lose yourself in these stories.

Don’t just take my word for it go here and find out for yourself

http://www.torisparks.com

Tori will be featured on NBT podcasts during September

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

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

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (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:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 85

In Another Life – Count To Fire (Independent Release)

From the loneliness of brief solo piano the band steps into another life where the room opens out into the big country, and the girl is young and moves with movie star yearning stuck in the tender moment of a first meeting made sad and beautiful with nostalgia. The innocence before desire sparkles across the scene and the guitar creeps in, takes precedence. The lovers dance, the time loop doesn’t seem to hold easy answers and the comfort is only in this memory.

All this and it is only the first track.

As the memories continue to weigh heavy, the singer finds the grey of his real rain filled day cannot compete to the grey shifting romance of the flickering screen, and when he sings of battles, it is that twilight time between chaos, when escape is almost possible and despair is almost a release.

I think that this is an album that longs for the bright, wide, open freedom, but with melancholy acceptance finds itself tethered to real world where the war is against giving up, where love does not find a way unless fought hard for.

It is in this delicate knowledge of what makes us regret, that a fine hope shines through.

Stand out track for this listener is ‘City Lights’ a slow building ballad, with an alluring soul feel reminiscent of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James when working for Monsters Of Folk. On here, as on many of the tunes, the skillfully orchestrated harmonies add so much to the power and heart of the tune, indeed you know you are listening to something that will stay with you for the longest time.

The band add colour to this set of ruefulness with shadings of Johnny Cash swagger and Long Ryder feistiness, but never distract from the mood that binds it all together, again in this era of the downloadable track versus the whole album debate, this demands to be listened to as a complete, satisfying whole.

Find out more here

http://www.myspace.com/counttofire

will be featured on NBT podcasts during August and September

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

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

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (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:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/