The NBT Review 108

  The Man With Two Brains – Dirk Speksnijder ( Independent Release)

 There is always a place in this indie world for the English Eccentric, from Syd Barrett to Julian Cope, from Ray Davies to Robyn Hitchcock, there thankfully is a music that transcends the ageing process, and can provoke and excite the modern listener while seemingly twisting away in a time warp made up from fabric poached from the Incredible String Band and McCartney’s more fanciful daydreams.

This is PoP but not as we know it, Jim, this is Folk but from those strange Folk, those travellers and Pranksters, and this is joyful, funny and yet with a tinge of the melancholic twinkling darkly underneath the shiny shiny reflected surface, as the opening track’s lyrics go, ‘this is war, and we don’t know what we are fighting for’ all echo and multi tracked harmony.

The songs are linked quirky/mock sombre with orchestra and spoken word adding to the overall ‘otherness’ of the record, but also giving the concept a sly unity: within the mostly sparse arrangments there are a lot of giddy touches that make each track a new discovery every play, from the opening riff of ‘Hot Air Balloon’ which wouldnt be out of place on Alice Cooper’s Killer album to ‘Going Out’ which could be made in an alternate universe where Blur was a late sixties band.

Dont think for a moment that is is just mere novelty, take a listen to stand out track ‘Two O Eight’ which lifts itself off from Space Oddity via Paul Weller and becomes its very own entity. Listening to this album makes me really want to hear Dirk’s Alter Ego, Phil Knight’s next offering, whatever and whenever that maybe..

For now though, this gentle love letter to a certain type of wonderfully warped songwriting shall have a cherished place in the cd player and radio rotation for the many months to come

 hear more

http://www.myspace.com/dirkspeksnijder

 you can hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th Jan 2011

 http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

 

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The NBT Review 71

Peter Comes From Neverland – Peter Comes From Neverland (independent release)

I like a twist in a newly born song, and the twist comes quickly on the opening track here (Trigger), starting off as what seems to be an acoustic shuffle, it explodes mighty prettily into a full blooded rock creature. Then the harmonies, then the slightly left of centre poppy tangle, oh yes, this is one of those songs that sound effortless, from thought to player as it were, but is tightly constructed, woven, into a perfect listening pleasure.

Next track, Airplane, is well named, it is that breed of tune that was made for introspection AND movement while Absorb turns the lights down low, shuts the bedroom door and seduces the intellect with a Grizzly Bear/Iron and Wine vibe.

The secret here, I think, is this singers tightrope walk ‘tween detachment and observation, and the intimacy of a small room performer.  A good example of this is the tune, Not A Beatles Song, which will soothe my hunger for a new Sufjan Stevens tune for a small while.

The EP plays out with the cool and satisfying strangeness of what sounds like New Order or the Cure going acoustic, Peter entrancing with that Robert Smith trick of setting mood for at least 80 or so seconds before a vocal is lightly added, allowing the song to build in mood and depth, so that the listener doesn’t want it to end.

The artist’s upcoming full album should be a revelation

http://www.myspace.com/petecovington

You can hear tracks from this EP on the NBT Podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/songs_burning_brightly

 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 58

Time Is Fun When You’re Having Flies – AfterThem

AfterThem – AfterThem (Both Independent Releases)

SO

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.

BUT

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

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/Afterthem

You can hear tracks from both albums on the NBT podcasts

6th May on our flagship cast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/
 5th may on the NBT Dark Electric

http://nbtdarkelectric.podomatic.com

The Amchitka Concert 1970

From the Greenpeace Canada website

‘’The two-disc CD takes you back to October 16th 1970, when 10,000 people gathered in the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver to hear Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Phil Ochs and support the very first Greenpeace action ever taken – the legendary voyage to Amchitka to protest nuclear bomb testing.’’

The Protest was unsuccessful and the testing went ahead, But the War was far from lost and Greenpeace went on to become an extremely powerful Voice for those who cared about the Earth and Environment and against those politicians and business men who through action and inaction threatened the delicate balance of true nature.

NBT is proud to have been given a chance to interview Barbara Stowe, daughter of Irving Stowe, one of the founders of Greenpeace. She is author of the insightful and touching liner notes for the ‘Amchitka 1970’ CD.

NBT: Why the release NOW, why wasn’t this put out in the weeks, months, years after the actual concert, did it have to do with technical problems or getting the release of the Artist’s music from their record companies and so on?

In the beginning, Greenpeace was a local organization consisting of at most a couple of dozen volunteers, and the time and energy needed to see such a project through would have been overwhelming. We were too busy trying to stop nuclear testing worldwide!  My father would have been the logical person to consider such a thing, given his passion for music, chutzpah and his legal background.  But he got cancer and died in 1974.

My family has always hoped that Greenpeace would be able to get permissions and release this music, but just to get the ear of busy artists like Joni and James was a daunting prospect.  In 2003 my brother got the ball rolling by transferring the music to CD, and he presented my mother and myself with a CD each as Christmas presents.  He is a meticulous person and he’d timed each song and crafted a few paragraphs about the concert and the technical recording details.  He even used photos of the artists taken at the concert for the covers.  He realized he’d created something Greenpeace could use as a prototype to seek permissions, so he proposed the project to Greenpeace.  When they sent John Timmins out to Vancouver, I knew they’d found exactly the right person.  John is a founding member of the Cowboy Junkies — a renowned Canadian band — and also a Foundations Officer for Greenpeace, and given his passion for the project, his background as a professional musician, and his experience in activism, he was perfect, and we were very excited.  That was two and a half years ago.

NBT: Have you ever visited Amchitka?

Yes. I was part of the “Bering Witness” campaign in the summer of 2007, when the Greenpeace ship Esperanza sailed to Amchitka.  The whole trip totally blew my mind.

NBT: World Powers are always wanting to re-activate Nuclear Testing, in your opinion is there a solution to this problem, or will Greenpeace and others still be fighting the ‘good fight’ 20 years from now?

The solution is clear.  Nuclear weapons threaten us all, and should be eradicated from the face of the earth.  But I’m not naïve.  I suspect Greenpeace may still be fighting to end nuclear testing in 20 years time.  Nonetheless I refuse to relinquish hope, and I’m glad that leaders like President Obama and Russian President Medvedev are talking about denuclearization. Greenpeace can help hold their feet to the fire and push them to make good on their promises.

NBT: The 3 artists perform and create in ways that are very different to one another, how did this change in styles go down with the audience of the time?

There was tension because everyone wanted to hear their favorite artists, and this electricity was intensified by the fact that it was one of the most politically charged days in Canadian history.  Martial law had been declared at 4 o’clock that morning, in an attempt to quell terrorism in Quebec.  So when Phil Ochs, who is a fervent activist, got onstage and started to play, the mood was heightened. Someone put up a banner about the War Measures Act (martial law) and someone else tore it down.  And you can hear Phil on the CD, saying “I never played in a police state before”.

But people were ultimately respectful, and in this sense, the whole concert became a kind of visceral metaphor for peace.  Because there could have been real trouble, but there wasn’t.  I mean, there was zero security!  All the ushers that night were volunteers who had no experience, and everyone just sat wherever they liked…you can see in the photo, look at the floor, there are no aisles, the whole floor is covered with people sitting on every inch of it!

Part of the reason there was no trouble was respect for the cause, and part of it is down to Chilliwack, who played this brilliant set that got us on our feet dancing for joy.  I’d never heard Chilliwack live and it was a revelation.  Recently I asked Bill Henderson, the lead singer, how they did it, because one song seemed to segue magically into another, I can’t even remember any separation.  He said that the way they were playing then was to start with quiet sounds that served to ground both themselves and the audience, and then gradually develop those sounds into melodies and rhythms, and eventually find a way into one of their songs, and then into another, and so on.  It takes a lot of trust and vulnerability to do that and I think the audience really responded in kind, so that a special bond developped between performer and audience. And then, James further chilled out the crowd, I’m still amazed at how he did that, it felt like we were almost hypnotized with bliss.  He was singing us lullabies, you know, “Sweet Baby James”…”won’t you let me go down in your dreams…and rockabye sweet baby James”.  And Joni, she just let her lyrics speak: “bombers turning into butterflies above our nation”.  It was really beautiful.  I sound like I’m back in the Seventies now, don’t I?

NBT: Did you get to meet the singers? Offstage what were they like?

Phil Ochs came to our house for dinner before the concert.  He was outraged that we were under marital law. Canada was considered such a benign country, a peaceable kingdom. But Phil kept his fury in check when it came to personal relations.  He gave my brother a cigar from Cuba, which Bobby treasured for years.

When Phil came back to our house several years later on another tour I had the impression of a gentle and deeply tormented man.  He was so depressed that when I later heard of his suicide I was very much saddened but not really surprised.

I didn’t get to meet Joni, but my brother did.  He went to the airport with my father to pick them up.  He told me there was only room for one other person in the car besides my father, and that was him, and I had to go to school!  And I did!  I’m still kicking myself.  But people at school were psyched about the concert, so that was pretty cool.  My brother saw Joni and James kissing in the back seat of the limo, they were in love.

I met James backstage on a later tour. He invited us into his dressing room and he had that Southern charm.  He was extremely cool and good looking and I’m sure I blushed to the roots of my hair!

NBT: You mentioned your Dad’s love of all forms of music, in 1970 what were the Teenagers such as yourself listening to?

Some of the favorites for my crowd were Joni Mitchell; The Beatles; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Leonard Cohen; Laura Nyro; Jefferson Airplane and Simon & Garfunkel.  We also loved Chilliwack and Small Faces, and until the concert, I hadn’t heard James Taylor, but after I heard him I became a big fan.

NBT: Why is Chilliwack not on the CD?

What happened was, during the concert, my father saw a tape recorder under the stage, and he went to the sound engineer and said, “Dave, I see you’re taping this.”  Dave said yes, I always tape my concerts for technical reasons, and Dad said, I want a copy.  Then he went to the artists’ managers and asked for permission to keep the tape for personal use.  All the managers agreed, except Chilliwack’s. So the copy that my family had all these years never had Chilliwack on it.  During the past year, Bill Henderson launched a valiant search to find the master tape which might have still had Chilliwack’s portion on it, but he couldn’t find it.

NBT: The proceeds of this release, what will Greenpeace use the money for?

To support Greenpeace campaigns: climate change, forests, oceans toxics, sustainable agriculture, disarmament and peace.

NBT: In your opinion: Were the 70s more optimistic/hopeful than this day and age, could this concert have happened in 2009? This release must bring many bitter sweet memories to you; tell us how you see the Political world, the music world. Are there still free world activists willing to risk life and limb to change the status quo? 

Oh, why not ask me some hard questions, Martin? Ha ha ha ha!  Actually I love questions like this that make me think.  To answer your first question:  Was the 70’s a more optimistic and hopeful time?  It was in some ways.  Many people believed that existing power structures and institutions had to be smashed and a new way of living had to be created. In this sense the ‘70’s was more optimistic because people really believed that a more utopian, peaceful existence was possible. And the social revolutions of the Sixties and ‘70’s, the Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Gay Rights movements did so much to further change.   But these movements were driven by historic tragedy as well as hope, they were driven by anger, and by a willingness to die for a cause.  So while there was optimism, there was also this dark underside of rage and the struggle for freedom was fierce and painful.  Then there was the Vietnam War which literally tore American families apart. And the music of the day, which can’t be separated from the times, was driven by this darkness and a soul-searching at the deepest level, as well as a corresponding and opposite belief in love and hope, peace and change.  You can hear the music reflect all this, whether it’s Phil Ochs raging “I’m Not Marching Anymore” or Joni’s bombers turning into butterflies, in “Woodstock”. 

Your second question, could this concert have happened in 2009?  I don’t know.  I think great musicians like Joni, James, Phil and Chilliwack, who have so much heart and soul, will always respond to an appeal as urgent as the one to stop nuclear testing on Amchitka.  U2 is a modern example of artists responding to urgent need, on both anti-poverty campaigns and environmental campaigns.  Which, incidentally, thankfully, no longer have to be considered separate campaigns, now that anti-poverty activist Kumi Naidoo has been appointed head of Greenpeace International.  But I digress.  To get back to the point:  I believe great artists will always commit for a worthy cause, but as for the nature of the thing, that is a concert with no backup musicians, no visuals, no big screens, just one musician and a guitar commanding a huge arena?  I don’t know.

Also there is something magical in the spontaneity of these performances, perhaps because the artists didn’t know they were being recorded, which is ironic given that we’re so glad now that it was recorded.  The instant musicians step onstage nowadays a million iphones capture their every breath.  There’s something sad about that, because when you’re recording, you’re not present. It breaks the intimate connection between performer and audience, and that changes the performance.

As for the third question, how do I see the music world and the political world?  Well in terms of music I’m overwhelmed by the wealth of music now available to us! It’s wonderful, but also I think today it’s more difficult for artists because the bigger the talent pool, the more they have to fight for attention, and art and public relations don’t go together. I’d like to see artists more nurtured and respected and the almighty buck take a back seat.  When commerce takes precedence it weakens us culturally and lessens our humanity. Phil Ochs says it pretty clearly in “Chords of Fame”.

As for politics…it’s easy to live in fear and anger — the Bush Administration was driven by it — but I think the brave thing to do is to try to live in hope, no matter how difficult things become, and we couldn’t be facing greater challenges than we are in this millennium.

And as for whether there are still free world activists willing to risk life and limb to change the status quo?  Absolutely!  I saw them on the Esperanza.  Greenpeace is full of activists who are utterly committed to peaceful non-violent action.  It inspires me and gives me hope.

You will be able to hear Barbara herself say a few words and listen to trax from the CD on the NBT ‘best of 2009`Special 21st December 09

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

Learn more about the release here:

www.myspace.com/amchitka

www.twitter.com/amchitka1970

www.facebook.com/pages/Amchitka/60751539970

 

 

 

 

 

The NBT Review 34

rev34

BQEP – The Bloodsugars (EngineRoom Recordings)

The song glides into focus, shivery buildup then POW, a PoPManAngel floats, no, swoops down, grabs us, and now we fly, now dance in this cool indie heaven. This wicked angel sings of the Quiet of Space and we find ourselves slow dancing beneath glitter ball sparkleStars.

This then is the single, ‘’Purpose Was Again.’’

Then guilty pleasures taken, with 80s keyboard kisses, the melody flirts but the lyrics are sharp, anger wrapped in sweet shy hooks.

Cinderella drum driven, chart song tensionNfrenzy recalling  the days when MTV, showed shy daughters sway and strut with lines of highly choreographed boys behind them.

Polished and shiny sure, a gentle post punk song-craft here, allowing the harmonic dangerous to slip through, ripples of disturbance, softly softly maybe, but these songs are not fragile things.

Get your sugar high here

http://thebloodsugars.com/

http://www.engineroomrecordings.com/artists.html

She’s Like A British Car – The Thromboes (CatErratic Records)

Oh its back to the garage, and just in time too, its dirty delightful here, oil stain glamour, spare part rough slinky raw rock squeezed into 3 minute nuggets.

Its Iggy meets the Yardbirds picking a fight with those freaky Monks (ironically a copy of ‘Black Monk Time’ >from 1966> fell into my hands about the same time I received ‘British car’.) Its twisted and sneering, the Troggs watching the Kingsmen, SLOUCHING around, waiting around for Punk to hit them hard.

Every tune makes you want to do that strange shuffle, where the body hardly moves but is full of poetic slinky menace.

This is music made by handsome savages sound tracking wry  17 year olds, on their brand new adventures.

This is ancient voodoo messy unapologetic , it is the return of the Junk and the Jive.

Get hooked here

http://www.myspace.com/thethromboes

Hear both these bands on this upcoming podcast Friday 12 June

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The CyberPR (Ariel Publicity)New Media Pioneer Interviews 17

arielapril

Adam Hiniker

EarCandy New York

Q:  How long have you been broadcasting/blogging?

We created Ear Candy about a year ago and recorded shows sporadically for the first nine months. It was just December that we started doing a weekly show.

Q:  In your opinion, what does a good song need to consist of?

In my opinion it has to have an edge or some very apparent emotion behind it. I don’t necessarily think a song has to be cutting edge or innovative to be great (though it helps) as long as an artist shows skill in their craft and confidence in how they deliver it.

Q: What is your favorite band or favorite genre of music and why?

The genre I listen to the most is hip hop, it’s an extremely raw form of expression considering the overhead is very minimal and  so much can be said in just sixteen bars of a hip hop verse. I grew up listening to hip hop and always liked it for superficial reasons but in the early nineties I discovered their were acts out there that wrote about things I could actually relate to and that’s when I started getting ideas about producing music.

Q: What changes in content laws, broadcasting rights, etc. have effected you most?

With all of the podsafe music resources and the fact that most artists and labels are more than willing to let us play their music these types of changes haven’t affected us much.

Q: A recent study found blogs to be more effective than MySpace in generating album sales, do you feel that that is a true statement?

Yes, I think their is a lot of random solicitation on myspace, however when someone blogs about an artist or album it’s a form of reference for the reader who generally values the bloggers opinion. Blogging is a great form of promotion for artists and also gives music fans an opportunity to be a journalist, I think this drives sales in a way that making mix tapes used to but on a much larger scale.

http://www.earcandynewyork.com/

The NBT Review 24

review24

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.

http://www.treygreenmusic.com/

 

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

http://www.myspace.com/bixmedard

http://cdbaby.com/cd/bixmedard

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

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/