The NBT Wonderful Ones 2010 Part Two Of Three

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
Frequency Theatre
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.

http://www.sidgriffin.com/the-coal-porters/

Sarathan Records

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!

http://sarathan.com/

Vanishing Angels
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…

http://www.myspace.com/vanishingangels

Mammut

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.

http://www.myspace.com/mammut

Ruth Minnikin
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.

http://www.ruthminnikin.ca/

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!

Hemifran
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.

http://www.hemifran.com/news.html

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.

http://www.facebook.com/NBTmusicproject#!/pages/Andrew-Kay/125647309376

Boister

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.
http://www.boister.net/


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…

http://www.88kos.com

Krista Detor
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’

http://www.kristadetor.com/

Inter Idoru

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!

http://interidoru.com/home.cfm

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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 67

Ghosts – Tokyo Rosenthal (Rock & Sock Records)

Begin with the urgent, like when Elvis was more country than Las Vegas; this is Sun Sessions with a lyrical sting in the tail. Is this about the way obsession wounds, or is it about the will to escape from a relationship where destruction’s maybe it’s only saving grace? In a skillful bit of minimalist writing Rosenthal shows this story from multiple points of view, and all the while the music rock-a-billys on.

Then the song gets gentle, gets personal, the insight is tempered with deep love, and a character (a soul) is sketched as we listen. A life is shared, the small tragedies and tiny (yet tremendous) triumphs, this is the way one person keeps, keeping on.

There is no perfect love but there is damn near perfect old time Americana swing here, the affectionate dance prevails, giddy yet tender it heals.

Almost an island lilt to the title track, the singer treats his darkness with care, as he moves into ballad; the beauty is in the details (no need for a million words of explanation) just the hint of a touch or a smell or, perhaps most importantly, an echo. Poignant memory, stripped off angst, no brittle thing this, rather considerate and eternal.

Mister Tell Me why this next song shouldn’t be a miracle of a cross over hit , just enough rough, just enough dirt, the smile this induces, is an intimate thing.

Then a curveball, an jazzy pop 60s curveball,  the less frantic Loving Spoonful perhaps, or the Monkees drifting towards psychedelic bubblegum, A lazy charming thing.

These are songs that are constantly surprised by the danger within an emotion let loose, are amazed by how the smooth flow of a day’s journey can be tumbled chaotic with just a word or a gesture. These are songs that are entranced with the Consequences of love and anger, how we travelers have too much understanding sometimes, thoughtlessness other times. These are songs that know that it is not necessary to preach an answer, but it is rather cool to set a listener down the road towards his or her own conclusion.

These are songs that seem to talk to each different one of us they are immediate in their connection yet their caress abides long after the player has stopped spinning.

http://www.tokyorosenthal.com

Hear tracks from this album on several NBT Podcast shows

 http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=619263

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=614489

And coming up on the 30th June 2010 as well.

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of Tokyo’s 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/

(personally I hope this cool Americana music will be up there really soon J)

The NBT Review 64

Melancholy Waltz – Richie Lawrence (Big Book Records)

This is what music is meant to do. I am transported from a weak summer day, still losing its battle with should be long gone winter, to standup flying through the shadows and the heat and sleepy heaviness of somewhere deep in old America.

This is stripped down dreamtime, breathing slow, deep and moody.

When the vocals start (accompanied by seductive accordion) they are laid back but almost flirtatious, in ‘Danielle’ one gets the impression that even if the woman in question is angry enough to THINK about leaving, she is also charmed by the gentle nostalgia of the playing.

Within the title track, Lawrence blends the sad dramatic with a sense of liberation, this and the other songs are flickering ancient images of battles fought and, again, one is taken back to the feel of dreams, the hopefulness perhaps of the weary optimist.

These are songs that soothe the savage self pity of the barroom late night, in awe of the days past, in love with the possibilities of the here and now.

Magically Lawrence creates secular hymns crossed with just the right hint of music hall bawdiness. When there is regret it is gentle and when there is love it is profound and utterly moving.

This collection is an escape, played pure, from the heart.

http://www.richielawrence.com

Hear tracks and thoughts from Richie Lawrence about the album on the NBT Podcast of the 13th May

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 48

Some Moths Drink The Tears Of Elephants – Boister (Piano Parasite Productions)

Ah this delightful disturbance, this redemption in the darkness. Do you know how ghostly carnival lights seem, from a distance, on a rainy night? This is the soundtrack to that feeling.

Produced by legendary maverick/storyteller Jim Dickinson, who once channeled the sweet twilight of Big Star into something eternal, this collection, seems to be ancient Pop, perhaps even tomorrow’s Americana, Though with wonderful contradiction,  there is a fragmented European soul breathing between the lines too.

It starts with a languid gasp perhaps sigh , definite slow motion thoughts catching up to the moment, the music subtly builds, the room the picture fills with detail, the story unfolds ragged yet elegant. Funeral music that makes you feel very much alive.

Then a lullaby morphs into a sly grin take on Brecht, the band swaggers, the curtains, windows, thrown open onto a vibrant street gathering, a party full of tension.

Then a drum thing that seems to be slowed fractured down sympathy for the devil grooving into horns and guitar, washing up against the vocals, then without noticing we have slid into a perfect rock song sway, a gift with gentle hooks that we will be humming months from now.

These are tunes that are built fragile, crafted intricate standing there, the title track: quick take a snapshot before it all falls down, but it never falls down, no matter how harsh the rhythms that swirl around it, rudely affectionate.

Then the weirdest thing: I hear the east, the far east, not east America, but also: I hear almost a ska thing going, I hear the islands, come on dance and Thank You.

Then invited into this strange tent at this strange market, we shiver into an exotic fumbling before the band throws another cruel ballad or three our way, and as they are wrapped in the most beautiful melodies, we catch them easy, we are captured easier.

Layered and complex, yet never contrived this is a near perfect release.

http://www.boister.net

Catch tunes from this release on the NBT Podcast going out on the 23rd Feb 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 37

rev37

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

The NBT Review 31

review31

Echo Slightly reviewed by Martin Smit

Greg Copeland reviewed by Alexandra Smit-Stachowski

Birds Fly South  – Echo Slightly (NonExistent Recordings)

We are wrapped nostalgic as the electronics sigh into focus, synths shuffle slide across the tracks caressing, covering the delicate vocals.

We are sucked into this ambiguous calm, only to find the dance storm growing in strength, the drums skitter clean industrial, guitars swoop in like sexy fighter planes and all is popSwirl, PoPSwaY.

Each ballad is merely an entry into the rampage, the sky bleeds gothic colours, the metal twists and grins are barely restrained.

Tightly wound, the explosions are suggestive, the tension delectable.

There are Robyn like CandyMusic nuances, and the band gaze back into the 80s darkly, for every shiny moment, there is shy shadow.

Beguiling

Find out more here:

http://www.nonexistentrecordings.com/?page_id=16

http://cdbaby.com/cd/echoslightly

Diana And James  – Greg Copeland (Inside Recordings)

Greg Copeland’s debut album, ‘Revenge Will Come Back’ in 1982 was produced by school friend Jackson Browne, the album made an impact and tracks were covered by Joan Baez, Browne and David Lindley. Copeland then disappeared from view – 25 years later, he returns with ‘Diana And James”, again executive produced by Browne.

 “There oughta be a law,“ sings Copeland on the opening track, too true – those keen on good music should be legally bound to listen to albums like this one. Packed with great violins and nyckelharpa (a traditional Swedish instrument), the title track sees Greg play electric, acoustic and baritone guitars producing dreamy twangy sounds.

 Heather Waters does harmonies with Copeland to lyrics including gems like: „Dear Reader right about now we’re tearing up our tickets for your long black train.“

 The melodies are gorgeous – this is story music that you need to listen to over and over again and each time you’re bound to hear something you missed, it’s that layered.

 Copeland sounds like he could be Mark Lanegan’s older brother – both have blood-soaked lyrics with the same type of vocalising.  The ghost of Hank Williams is in the guitar-playing of the song, “The Only Wicked Thing“ while the track, “Between Two Worlds“  brings to mind memories of lazy autumn days with leaves blowing.

The 25-year break in between records didn’t harm Copeland, he’s used the time to explore his darker country roots. The music sounds like it would have been a good soundtrack to HBO’s ‘Deadwood’ series about legendary gritty cowboys in America’s early days.

 Backed by many Californian musical heavyweights including Jay Bellerose, Gabe Witcher, Bob Glaub, Patrick Warren, and Phil Parlapiano– Copeland plays with violinist Carl Kihlstedt who sings with him on ‘Count the bodies on My Crown’.

 Listening to this album and the lyrics – you’re left wanting to see the accompanying music videos, the songs deserve a visual backdrop to complement them further.

 All in all, this is a beautiful album which should be critically-acclaimed by the mainstream music press but I have the overwhelming suspicion it has been unwisely ignored. Music will out and if justice serves, ‘Diana and James’ will get the credit it deserves.

 Find out more:

 http://www.insiderecordings.com/

http://www.hemifran.com/artists_g-h.html

You can hear tracks from both of these albums on the NBT Podcast

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