The NBT Review 100

A special edition celebrating our century of great reviews for bloody amazing bands.

Invisible War

The Firefly Garden – Merry Ellen Kirk (independent releases)

We dive into the drama, edged on by sighing bells; we are soon drifting along the most somnolent of melodies, these tunes taking on the character of dreams, unhurried thoughts, and their intent flexible, serene and devious even.

The piano waltzes like a kid in her first ballet costume while the bass slides from a Cheshire Cat purr to a subtle growl as the
listener is tempted to let go, let the light flow in, this is music that gently demands you set time aside for it, an escape if you allow it.

This is a hope filled set, the believing that there is always some way out of the darkness, (and yes she does embrace the darkness here) that a touch, a word, a rescue is available to the lost, an antidote to fears.

Stand out track for me is the slow build of ‘Victory’ a finely tuned mix of observation and the personal.

And so we move onto /into the Firefly Garden, still in its pre-release stages, Kirk takes the ethereal to the next level, the song ‘Candy’ being an especially delightful piece of modern dream Pop, immensely catchy without sacrificing wild charm. This set opens up the spaces, becomes so much wider than the bedroom intimate, yet..still..manages to speak to you, as in a private conversation.

The thing is, these are songs that can be played solo illuminating the dark night of the restless soul, or (soon I hope) can be
played to millions televised from the stage at some huge cool festival, where the chaos of the crowd cannot dilute the affection of the creations.

BUY the Firefly Garden Official Release

http://merryellenkirk.bandcamp.com/album/firefly-garden-2

Find out more

http://www.merryellenkirk.com/

Depend On This – Ruth Minnikin and her Bandwagon (SongMillMusic)

Artists love to shape shift their songs, from acoustic demo, the bare bone new born, to the band arrangement, to the live rendition, songs are made for pulling and prodding into exciting new forms, (tis why remixes so often work so well, if the manipulator shares a soul space with the composer) and here Minnikin takes six of her tunes and delights in showing just how a change of pace, focus and density can bring about new wonders.

Thus the Theme Song morphs from breezy Mamas and Papas pop brilliance into a wistful progressive folk interplay between wordless harmonies overlaying a carelessly disturbing instrumental.

And Sleeping and Dreaming slips from being a more orchestrated Au Revoir Simone ballad of quirky dimension into a skewed dancefloor shuffle all reflected mirror ball distorted.

Mention must be made of the re-arrangements of the six by Chuck Blazevic, who has taken care to instil the essence of the original into not just a negative image or enhanced backing track, but into cheeky(sly) brothers and sisters with distinct individualistic personalities.

This is one of those albums that make you fall in love all over again with the Possibilities of music.

Listen and discover for yourself

http://www.ruthminnikin.ca

Both artists can be heard on the NBT podcast going out on
the 11th November 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

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The NBT Review 93

Delicate Dangerous Cool Part Two

Alive – Tallulah Rendall (independent release)

On a day that I am woken by an elegant storm that seems to fade in from a dream and lives here forever, I find that I am incapable of dissecting these creations, going in heavy with a technical post-mortem for the casually curious. Rather due to the beauty and presence of this album, I wish to simply freefall into the words and music and send back to you my impressions, some may be in bold sharp focus, and some may be as blurred as a soft sigh, but all will, hopefully give you, gentle reader an idea of what it was like to travel here.

Caught in the ripple, caught in the pulse, a good time to jump, the song builds outwards, navigates into the chaos, the singer surfs the turmoil and you hold on tight, but she wouldn’t lie for you, wouldn’t die for you, so this, is what it means to be alive, the drop is there to be savored, the tension seductive breathless and sweet. Is she cruel or a savior of detached kindness, does it really matter, giving up is not really an option.

Listen to her delight in the giddy theatrical, the lure of the exotic and untouchable, the way she watches those who need and those who create that need, a haughty mix of the progressive folk that Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane practiced and the ambiguous vulnerable of a PJ Harvey.

Here the stage lights concoct colours that merge into the walls, so that the shadows can hide if they wish or scare if they want. Remember how Ms. Bush flirted musically with Mr. Gilmore and you get a small idea of her control over melody and mood, never allowing the drama to overflow into something too gaudy, her trick is to keep us tricked, entranced, willfully hypnotized.

There is something distinctly old fashioned at play here, yet the decades of inspiration shift past so alluringly you find you are never left out of the modern pop room either. This is her strange cool party and you are very much invited.

Fly there and find out for yourself

http://www.tallulahrendall.com

You can hear tracks from this album, this week on the NBT Dark Electric Podcast

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

And next week on the NBT Flagship Podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

The NBT Review 57

Looking For Landmarks – Two Loons For Tea (Sarathan)

I started this as a normal review. This word went here; these thoughts there. Then I realized, sometimes albums should not be dissected, no aural autopsy done. Rather the ‘letting go’ and then just…try, describe the journey.

Put on this music and this movie plays.

She drives through a landscape of rapidly changing storms. Escaping the thrum of her sweet nightmare, sometimes the sunlight sparkles on the cold metal, sparkles turn to sparks, blue sky to night. It was easier when she just believed him.

Subtle scene change, the camera zooms swoons over the car abandoned, the girl is gone and the boy is lost. The sound of reason, the sound of the past, the sound of mothers and lovers beat slow steady (deliverance) in another room, but he just can’t quite get up.

In a flash, the house is empty, no I take that back there is a Newsom ghost, a rock n roll Johanna, dusty sensual dancer, haughty almost even in the dying, even in the fade.

Cut to the city and strangely drifting along with a Roy Orbison mood she finds her self aging delicate, the prizes wrapped in unclear memories looking kind of ugly now in the intensity of her gaze.

This is all about adults looking for the children they were. And the children dreaming of the beautiful adults they may just become.

And then.

What is actually found.

A balance of regret and nostalgia, the rainbow breaks through the sepia and the colours bleed all over everything, the blur shifts and the band shudders into focus.

Finally this reverie explodes outward, the fragile characters in this movie twist and vanish and in a song named after a women who bound herself in words and wordplay and language and the paths of communication, sensual dangerous and enticing, in this song, the music speaks.

Then the writing is done, the album complete.  I listen to the sounds of a quiet room, a church bell ringing far away, a typewriter creating not so far away. I savor the calm as it stretches over the minutes of my thoughts.

Then I press play and begin the journey again.

Find out for yourself about this collection here:

http://sarathan.com/artists/twoloonsfortea.html

Buy Two Loons For Tea

http://tinyurl.com/NLD-Amazon

http://tinyurl.com/LoonsL4LAmazon

Songs from this album will be featured on a very special broadcast of the NBT Podcast

Going out on the 8th April 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.org/

Also read about Sarathan Records on the NBT Portal Website

http://nbtmusic.de/page10.php