The NBT Review 111

  The Shakespeares EP – The Shakespeares (independent release)

 Tonight the bridge is built from the solo Merry Ellen Kirk, a bridge built upon her trademark twinkling piano and vocal sighs leading into the darker territory that this Duo inhabits. Still dreams, yes, but these dreams are more cryptic, the shadows corporeal (look they reach for our hands, to spin us in) she is the colour shifting balloon, he is the tumbling ghost holding hard against the pull of the string, the beauty here in the pressure, the interplay tween loose and tight.

 What Aaron Krause adds is something that divinely distorts the shimmer evermore, a touch of acoustic blues and a sliver of grunge, adding loops of thoughtful insecurity to the serene, toughening up the songs, making them scary and bold.

The balance however is perfect, the two artists compliment and strengthen each other and no song here sounds remotely like a solo effort grafted into a new project.

 The fine art of the female/male interplay within a pop song structure is something that has gained momentum in recent years and the Shakespeares can happily join the ranks of acts like She and Him and Jenny and Johnny, but bring something somewhat more ethereal to the stage.

 There isn’t a wasted second in this EP and it makes the listener crave more, more from the Artists both together as the Shakespeares and from their other musical adventures, solo or otherwise

 http://theshakespeares.us/

 tracks from this EP are being played on the NBT podcasts and the NBT 24hr streaming radio

 http://www.facebook.com/NBTMusicRadio

 Actors and Liars – Twin Brother (independent release)

 This slow build takes on different disguises, turn here and we find the slight wounded Gothic, blue spotlight on dark stage. Turn there and discover the jangle exuberance of the indie star confidant. Not so much statements of intent rather maps to pour over, invitations to join the exploration.

 This is the sound of future stars finding their voice, it is personal, often messy and always involving, it is music you want to stay with and music that gives up it’s bitter sweet secrets slowly, willfully, sly and shy all bundled up in atmosphere and delectable drama.

 One secret to its power is the holding back, the less is more template, chaos and theatre and grand gestures are hinted at, sketched, forshadowed, though dont get me wrong the songs are NOT afraid to rock out in that love of Pop way that Interpol or even Franz Ferdinand have. You know, the kind of song that when you hear it you just want to see it performed live, so you can jump around to it with a thousand other beguiled fans.

 The band is comfortable with the slight eccentricity of their songs, there are touches of the gleefully bound Julian Cope (ready to explode) and the sheer delight in the structure of the song, that Edwyn Collins has. In fact, as Twin Brother work at their craft they have potential to replace glow of (rather) less than satisfying bands like Glasvegas, in the indie Nations heart and minds.

 Hear Tracks from this Album on the NBT Podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

and also on the NBTMusicRadio (Facebook page here)

http://www.facebook.com/NBTMusicRadio 

The NBT Review 110

  The Foxpockets EP (independent release)

 there are some kinds of music that make the curious listener very excited, no matter the mood that surrounds him at the start, the music never fails to invigorate and intrigue. This music usually has folk as a starting point, is played and created with sheer joy by the musicians and is often layered, verbally and musically. Bands like Tilly and the Wall, Los Campesinos,Tunng and now Foxpockets are often labelled twee by a jaded press who seem to like a strong spoonful of angst with their cuppa alternative, (you know the type, the ones who write in little books and are afraid to dance when the band goes mad on stage.) and oh how wrong could that label be.

 This is simply music that makes one feel awfully lucky to have found it.

 The Nautical Song slow builds, adding instruments and vocal harmonising at a subtle pace, wonderfully restrained for a three minute tune. What is gentle becomes almost a jig before the song is done, the producer leaving the explosions for another time.

 Voytek is a finely sketched tale of war, Katharine Simner’s serene vocals counterpoint dark lyrics, all leading up to a most heavenly and moving instrumental break.

 And Wintersleep should really be play listed all over the damn place. Timeshifting, swaying, elastic it slips across three or four moods from thoughtful funeral to shy invitation to dance and ends way too soon.

 As a prologue to a full album, this is a delightful introduction to band that we will be hearing a great deal more of.

 http://www.myspace.com/foxpockets

 Hear tracks from this release on the NBT podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

 and in the next few days Foxpockets will be added to the 24 hour stream of NBTMusic Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

 

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

 

The NBT Wonderful Ones 2010 Part Three Of Three

another hectic year another huge collection of new acts discovered. When i say new acts, well new to me, and  new to some listeners,though of course,  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

Part Two HERE

The NBT Visual Page can be seen HERE and HERE
Cassis and the Sympathies

Photographer, Film Producer, yes Cassis was all of these in 2010, but somehow she still found time to create a shivering set of electro songs steeped in the otherness of Europe and the cosiness of the States

Cassis in her own words:
2010 started great as Matt Keating and I went on tour together with Joerg Feyer: In 10 days to 6 countries driving 7500 km. It was one of the better tours I have experienced and comes right after touring with the local buses through Mexico.

At the end of the year I am excited to report that I have changed my location from Brooklyn to Berlin as I am writing the soundtrack for a German feature film for the next couple of months. I am working with the director, Catharina Deus for the third time on a film for major German TV, ZDF.

The Birmingham based Lantern Music team and I have started to collaborate on a new album for a band project called ‘A Hawk in the Rain’. We recorded for 5 days outside of Berlin at Jan Tilman Schades house, a successful composer and cellist known for his work with ‘Einstuerzende Neubauten. Just recently we continued to record in Leeds in an old church basement.
. Hopefully the film I am currently working on will come into the cinemas. And I will finish a new song CD. Yeah!

http://www.cassisvision.com/

Wartapes

this year wartapes built upon their identity, mixed the dreaming with the machine howl and cat-like scratched up against the listener. Was the purr of the tunes seductive or scary or both? Their song ‚‘Do You Ever Think Of Me‘ made it into the NBT top 20 trax of 2010.
http://www.facebook.com/wartapes


Bill Price
Master storyteller Price released his 5th Album in 2010, the beguiling ‚’With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories‘ songs crafted from an acoustic base and coloured by a band of musicians totally in sync with the mood and aspirations of the artist.

Bill in his own words:

My latest album, “With the Eye of s Skeptic…”, was released at the tail end of 2009, so I spent most of 2010 trying to promote it. As I look back over the year, I am struck by how similar 2010 feels to the last four or five previous years – that is, full of frustration and yet plenty of progress as well. Frustration at trying to gain more exposure, play to bigger audiences, sell more CDs and keep up with the technology surrounding music promotion – all of which fall under the “business” side of music.

Yet, the progress was substantial. The new album got more positive reviews and airplay than any of my previous releases and I’ve finally gotten my web site to a level that I’m very pleased with. The other progress was purely artistic.

I feel the new album is as good or better than anything I’ve done. I’ve met and played with some new and amazing musicians, written new songs, performed at some new venues and had several very memorable shows. So as usual, the most satisfying results are things that have come from the creative and not the business part of what we do – the heart and not the head, you might say. But isn’t that what it’s all about? And isn’t that what this season reminds us all – that when we share what’s in our hearts, it brings out the best in us and all who surround us? Peace and best wishes to everyone for 2011. – bp
http://www.billprice.info/

Mike Petrone
what made Petrone‘s release (The Last Hundred Yards) so important was that it was a hip hop album without over inflated ego, and no bitterness and it dealt with something that meant life or death to many of its target audience, the personal experiences of a soldier fighting in Iraq. there was no granstanding or political powerplays within, just a honest lyrical stance on top of great beats.

http://mikepetronemusic.com/


Danika Holmes
Ms Homes was a glowing inspiration for those who wished to survive, not just the indie music world, but the obstacles that pop up during the course of our ‘ordinary‘ days. (no life can ever really be called ordinary can it)

Danika in her own words:
Thanks a lot for including me in the “wonderful ones” edition of the next big thing! There were definitely high and low points of 2010. Really, the best part of the year for me was releasing my debut cd and taking the jump into music full time! I had a fantastic cd release party and felt so lucky to have so much support from family, friends and even complete strangers!

Other high points of the year were recording and releasing my first music video and traveling to Los Angeles and Nashville for multiple business and creative opportunities. The human connections made face to face were great. We live in an online world today, but nothing beats face to face contact! And shows!!! Every show under my belt gave me one more opportunity to connect with someone new and I’m thankful for that.

Low point was the insane migraine I had flying on the red eye home from LA. My head hurts to even think about it now.

2011… ohh am I excited! We’re looking to do over 120 shows this year and spread our wings geographically. We’re excited to have joined the Abolitionist tour for its Midwest and Austin dates. The Abolitionist tour’s purpose is to raise awareness and funds for human trafficking issues.

Also, I’ve been writing a ton of new music lately and have been fortunate enough to meet some really great new co-writing partners from around the United States. I have a really fantastic team of people I’m working with on so many different levels. Be on the lookout for new music in 2011!

http://www.danikaholmes.com/

Anais Mitchell
nominated for a grammy, her folk opera Hadestown featured the cream of the alt country universe, here is what our writer Cobus Rossouw said about it:

Hadestown is also beautiful. This may not be a pre-requisite for everyone, but for this reviewer an aesthetically pleasing artwork is always preferable to a work that is provocative but not evocative. I could listen to Hadestown anywhere, in any company. It will reward the casual listener and the listener who wants, needs to be broadened.

A last word: If you love music then buy Hadestown right now. Buy Hadestown because you need to own it and praise the gods that Anais Mitchell is a musician and not a sculptor, because most of us would have to make do with a photograph of her work if the latter were true. Buy Hadestown because Mitchell and Chorney have earned the right to your money and your heart.

http://www.anaismitchell.com/

Small City Calling

In ‚’Castaways‘ the band created a mini indie pop classic and in their full length album,‘Oceanus‘ a journey well worth taking. the perfect escape.

http://smallcitycalling.com

Mach Fox
Prolific creator of so much digital music, the esteemed Mr Fox filled the internet airwaves with music that soundtracked the vibrations of future discos.

Mach Fox in his own words

he110 Martin & NBT readers/listeners –
thanx for supporting independent musics and including Mach FoX as one of the “Wonderful Ones” in 2010. Hope our music has entertained/interested and confused some of you.

2010 saw the release of the dark postpunk maxi-single “Nu Dead Pretty” along with some re-releases and “The Sky Is Falling” EP in December by independent German netlabel afmusic and available as FREE legal downloads under Creative Commons License.

You can expect more releases in 2011, including an alternate version of “The Sky Is Falling” EP mixed/remixed by Swedish music Producer Planktoon, and another slab of electronic tinged gothrock from Mach FoX and his fantastic creatures. If you’re visiting Mach FoX’s universe for the first time make sure you come armed with a twisted psyche.

The Sky Is Falling  released 12/07/2010 by afmusic under Creative Commons License- Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative

http://www.machfox.com


Peter Doran

what we said: He constructs a gentle swing, a love song simply (complicated), about the strength of love, then old fashioned piano ballad, with a skill an equal to those old Carpenters’ tracks composed by Paul Williams. Note here must be made of the soulful minimal production by Filippo Gaetani, never overusing orchestration, always adding just the right touch of drama and emotion
Peter In his own words:
Looking back now over the last year, I feel like it has been a very productive one… It was the year I recorded and released my second album. January started with ice & frost, but still we managed to get the wheels in motion for the recording of “Sleepless Street”.

Throughout this process, I have been very lucky to meet and work with some very talented people, some of whom, I now count among my very dearest friends. 2010 for me was littered with magical moments, too many to recount here! Recording guitars and vocals for the album with producer Filippo Gaetani in Italy and Vienna will always be special to me. I will always remember too, the late-night skype calls to Sweden with Marcus Gunnar Pettersson, as he skillfully brought the album artwork to life!
Since the album’s release in the middle of the year it has received glowing praise from listeners, bloggers and reviewers across the globe. My music has been played on internet radio and podcasts from America to Australia, and on terrestrial radio in Ireland. It is hugely rewarding to know people are responding to this record, and it gives me strength and encouragement to push on bravely into 2011. Next year I will continue to tour live and also begin writing songs for the 3rd album !
http://peterdoran.bandcamp.com/album/sleepless-street

Lenelle Moise
welcome the poet, the performer, the playwright to the nBt stage. politically and socially incisive, her album created with Karla Mosley, ‘The Expatriate Amplification Project ‚ celebrated the power of the female voice, both in a physical and intellectual way.

http://www.lenellemoise.com/

Rebecca Turner

For a change this is indie music that is positive, playful, joyful even.

Rebecca in her own words:

So many musical adventures in 2010! Some highlights for me were an “Exile on Main Street” tribute at a record shop called Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ; and gigs at the Presby Iris Garden and the Terra Tea Salon, both in lovely Montclair, NJ, growing center of hipness.

Lately it’s been harder to balance my day gig and my music, but yet it also feels more important than ever to heed the musical calling.

I love country music, and it’s been my dream to write a bunch of old-school country songs, maybe some that someone else might record. But I also still want to rock and be weird. So for my follow-up to “Slowpokes,” I’ve challenged myself to write a double CD, half of which’ll be purer country stuff, and the other half will be odder. The writing is maybe 1/20th done, but it’s starting to speed up!

PS, I can’t stop listening to the new record by The Autumn Defense.

http://rebeccaturner.net/

Carta Marina
a band that kept surprising us, starting a set with some exquisite modern college rock and then twisting our expectations with guitar ambience worthy of Mogwai. Their release End Of An Era really wasnt the end of anything but rather the beginning of a delightful sonic journey.

carta marina

Orange 1

the spirit of Tangerine Dream lives on!

Orange 1 creator Hans-Jörg Lorenz in his own words:

2010 was kind of calm! I had a CD  release in spring! The CD was ORANGE-1 2010 which is described as rich orchestrated with catchy beats& dreamy with swishy, swirling sounds that take you to far, distant places! Beautiful in sound! I released a second CD in November 2010! Thename is ORANGE-1  ORBITAL URBAN! It is described as to have sophisticated grooves & a fantastic atmosphere! I would describe it as futuristic, groovy & ambient!

http://orange-1.jimdo.com

Memphis Reigns

we said this about the EP Froghill Legend.‘We got to get these cats to start thinking outside of the box’ the fourth track, ‘Cloud Kingdom’ starts andthis is exactly why this music WORKS so damn well, I have said before and will say it again, what sets this collective apart is the willingness to skip the cliché, the easy formula that runs like a virus through much hip hop. Memphis Reignsstarts outside of the box, and seduces its way in. No pose no imagined chip on weak shoulders here.
Imagine Jay Z if he didn’t have to keep record executives happy while being chained to a idiotic Kanye West,imagine Eminem before he lost the plot and with a far broader love of the many tribes of music and you are only half way to catching on to this set’s charm.

http://www.myspace.com/mmechanics

Elika
this year was very much the year that dream PoP slipped into the mainstream‘s consciousness and Elika rode that wave with elegance and verve.

the band in their own words:

2010 has been a great year for us musically, but personally it was avery difficult.  Automatic Entertainment released our latest album”Snuggle Bunnies” in October.  We are proud of the record and believewe accomplished something really beautiful with the release.
In 2011 we are planning on playing more shows, finishing the recordingof our next album, and there might even be a tour or two squeezed inas well.  We are looking forward with hope.

http://elika.bandcamp.com/

Histrioniks

a band that never disapoints, real indie goodness, smatterings of 70s glam, 60s nuggets, dark Psychedelica and those undefinable strange things in the mood and the music that make them unique.

the band in their own words:
2010 was a particularly productive year for The Histrioniks. We released our fourth CD, “Camouflage Baby” on our own label, CatErratic Records. We were fortunate to get a publishing deal on our previous CD, “Thin” so hopefully the same will be true for “Camouflage Baby”.

In addition to significant internet radio we have received some very positive reviews including an exceptionally creative and poetic critique from Martin, our NBT master of ceremonies. The most played songs so far have been, “Hey Sincere”, “Interrupted Again” and “The Last Three Days”.

For 2011, The Histrioniks will work on a few new tracks but most of the energy will be devoted to The Thromboes new release. Both bands progress will be posted on our websites. We decided to send a demo version of “Forever Young” from our current release. This particular version was how we were originally going to do the song. It has a different lead vocal by Cat. The final version has more angst and is more spoken whereas this version is more flowing and pretty. Let us know what you think about the song and our new CD.

Feel free to write me and for sure friend us on myspace or our webpage. You can also find us on Facebook.

To all of our fellow NBT artists we wish you a Happy Holiday season and a prosperous and prolific musical 2011. Of course, as always, our sincere thanks to our friend Martin for making NBT possible.

http://www.thehistrioniks.com/

special mentions must be made of these acts/artist that i discovered after the deadline to this blog but i am sure we will hear a great deal from in 2011

Tallulah Rendall

MaCu

iCON

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

The NBT Review 107

Two very different bands and two very different reviews 🙂

 

Bruiser by Martin Smit

Frosting by William Elliot

 

Bully For Flux EP – Bruiser (WindowLicker Records)

A certian type of hard rock, streamlined to an inch of it’s roaring life, sleek, polished, yet still throbbing with power, is an extremly difficult creature to tame, never mind getting it to do new tricks in this modern age.

Sure the template here is those fine bands of time ago, like Cheap Trick, or Alice Cooper’s 70‘s disguise, but the band and the producers have managed to keep it all up to date in feel, style and substance.

What works is that under the reflected sheen and glow, there runs a dirty great engine, all oil and thrust and coarse, it is this containment, this tension trapped under driving sweet melodies that give the songs such power.

While others offer the illusion of danger, and stay safe, Bruiser offer up structure and songcraft and an honest invation to jump into the mosh pit and let go.

The Mix is what attracts here, a most difficult thing to get right in this sort of creation, the vocals are placed just so, neither too clean and upfront, or lost too far down in the murk, the instruments click tightly into the hurtling rythmn, the belief that good alternative needs to be messy, underplayed, or just cutely inept, is NOT adhered to, no rather that the making of a song from thought to finish is an adventure in skill and architecture.

and then the cool thing: all this does not distract from the warmth and passion and sweat in the music. a fine achievement indeed.

http://www.windowlickerrecords.com

Fresh Frosting – Frosting (Kentland Records)

Opening track, ‘Comfortable Enough’ starts of with a squwark and then slips into a sleepy rock ramble that recalls JJ Cale, but the pace is picked up with a countrified pop track called ‘Katrina Wells’ a song that sounds like it has already been on the charts and now is resident on every FM station.

The band make all this sound effortless, like they got up and got this done during one fine afternoon, in single takes. Whether or not this is so is besides the point (the album has been years in the brewing) because the band doesnt try to be different or artful, extreme or agitated, but rather play good tunes honestly.

Because of this many may skip past this album in search for some thing trendier perhaps, or seemingly hipper or seemingly more indie. That would be a huge shame, as the band cover a mulitude of styles and offer up a diverse set of great songs.

Stand out track for me is the delicate cover of Buckingham’s ‘Go Insane’ where Laura Lopardo takes control of the vocals and sways through the bittersweet with a gentle elegant touch.

to hear more go to:

http://www.frostingusa.com

Trax from these albums will be played in the new year on the NBT podcasts, stay tuned for that.

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.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