The NBT Review 90

Slowpokes – Rebecca Turner (Independent Release)

Gentle false start into falling words jumbled melodic, a sweet lecture, the Singer’s good advice to slow down and take in the casual wonder of how the subtle shades of human emotion could change your day, your life even.

This is music that is always there, a running river that maybe you were listening to the whole damn time now gracefully sliding into focus.

She says she loves Country and it shows, what also is very clear is her love of classic pop song craft and her infatuation with the art of the warm easy hook. She says pretty important things with a soft smile rock’n’sway, a lightness that make her thoughts utterly believable.

What thrills is the layers in Turner’s characters and in the world they move in. In stand out track, ‘The Way She Is Now’ the heroine is flawed (even doomed because of those flaws), but the freedom she finds in her personal chaos, makes us fall a little in envy, in love with the girl in the lyric, the song.

In Turner’s world the mistakes we make don’t have to be fatal, this is an album that suggests that hope is strength, and that the strongest survivors are those that let go just a little. Understanding everything isn’t necessary, fear is ok, and everyone is scared sometimes, but if everyone believed that the rain and the cold would finally stop and the sun would skitter and save, well that fear would be like the thrill you get from an exciting movie, certainly harmless and kinda invigorating.

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

Not naive though, Turner has a rare and insightful perception into what makes us complicated souls tick, so nowhere is there a sense of blind optimism, just that..HOPE.

An antidote to the darkness, a cure for the little things that build up and create the heavy blues, this is music that makes you want to get out of your slump, go actively seek out a better few hours.

The Musicians belong to the songs, no instrument shoves itself to prominence, balance is all, allowing the listener to discover delightfully unforced slivers of banjo, or pedal steel within the arrangements.

Come on join the escape

http://rebeccaturner.net

Rebecca Turner 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/

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The NBT Review 89

another review from Cobus Rossouw creator of 88 Kilos of Sunshine

Aaron English – American [Fever] Dream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron English is featured on NBT Podcasts during September

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

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

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 77

Heavy Water Experiments – Heavy Water Experiments (Intrepid Sound Recordings)

Sometimes the elements connect in just the right way and surround the listener with the right mood, environment, in which better to discover new music. Today as I explore this collection, the heat wave pulses, the road works outside shake and shout, in fact the whole damn day positively VIBRATES as I press play.

Welcome to the disturbance, it’s going to be a fine ride indeed.

This is the sound of a mirage, gentle shimmer of unreality, then that heat (now here in the speakers) explodes outwards, the dream figures melt, the colours collide, mesh frantic, the drums tiptoe up top the flames, and the song settles into an agitating lullaby. The vocals shift into focus, the harmonies subtle, and within all this fine magic, pop melodies strain against the ‘difference’.

Like a storm sneaking into the glare of a summer’s day, this band thrives on the ambiguity of it all, glorious messy mix of the chaos in the Jam and the structure of the song craft.

They let the instruments roar, and sing as people used to flying, finding the swoops and danger above somehow calming. There is a scent of the Psychedelic madness here, a tension grown from the soon to be freedom of the willfully frantic.

It is a place where the ghost of a traffic jam is filtered over the serenity of a deep forest, where the grit and grandeur of a festival edging into sunset along the howls of guitars is superimposed over forgotten photos of homes long lost by destructive lovers.

Never clumsy enough to be mistaken for simple hard rock, never bland enough to please those that seek the new age as a refuge from the difficult, it is an invitation to let go, to ride the hallucination bare back, to get fierce, to go crazy.

A LOT to discover here.

http://www.heavywaterexperiments.com/

Catch Tunes from the Album on the NBt podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

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 73

Land Of Shadows – Ben Bedford (Hopeful Sky Records)

The story unfolds slow, delicate, unwinds from the sharply written focus of the first line, and shifts into the mood and soul of a young soldier from long ago, and the words take on a frenzy made tense as they are counterpointed by the gentleness, the regret, the empathy of the musicians. As we are led back, full circle, to the opening vision, we have to wonder is this a song of hope (that the beauty exists even as we kill each other) or a song of almost unbearable sadness because the memory evoked shows there is no way for our ‘hero’ to get home.

Welcome then to the Land Of Shadows, where ghosts are created as we listen. Where the naïve recruits, the worn out rejects, the wounded romantics, the doomed and the survivors all demand, with quiet insistence that their tales be told.

Musically the tracks are rich in subtle variation, dabs of accordion, banjo, dobro, fiddles and such, blend into the melodies, but no showboating here, no production tricks seeking unwanted attention.

This collection has something of the way that Springsteen has about capturing the soul of the so called Common Joe, but without the bombast that sometimes sneaks into his songs, these are no widescreen epics, these heroes do not fight or toil for death or glory, but to survive, to love again, to get home and live their lives, their desire is to carry on, and let the brutality wash away, if it can.

The paradox here is that these tunes are not depressing, rather there is something uplifting, even joyful in the hushed revelations. And when the singer tackles the love song (You’re The Weather, One Night At A Time) It is his skill with the tiny details that seem to make these things personal to whoever is listening.

I found this a joy to discover and hear. These are stories I will return to again and again.

http://benbedford.com

You can hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th June 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 30

review30

Shotgun Daisy – Stacie Rose (Enchanted Records)

She is not going to wait around while we wake up, in her driving harmonic bittersweet world, she believes and sings for the strong, the ones that will find their way aided by a giddy mix of the ragged poetic and the sleek rock n roll.

Her instincts tell her, that love saves, that her tunes can be played without compromise floating subtle on summer TV screens broadcasting emotional misadventures.

She left turns into tales of break up, twisting the confession/recollection by getting Shawn Mullins to join in the chorus, adding dimension, deliciously distorting the point of view.

Sometimes the words tumble out double speed like school kids as the bell rings, sometimes the words sigh and float, stretched across the music like torch songs refugees that have found their hook.

Sometimes this all happens in the same song.

 She is comfortable with soul ballads and country raunch.

She is Stacie Rose and this is Shotgun Daisy

Find out more

http://www.stacierose.com

The Big Pretend – All Day Sucker (Trademark Entertainment/ big WOW music)

Outside while the wannabe starlets hustle and the cool boys glide, where the Eagles and America are NOT the wild bird and country, but the larger than life glossy surreal epic music groups, all is hot chaotic, beautiful and lost.

Inside the theatre lights dim and the movie begins. The Big Pretend begins.

First, there is car chase, Hollywood love letter style, driven by ‘Who’s Next’ keyboard riffs and frantic country rock vocals.

Then wry prayers, soaked in harmonies that even a cold lost European will know and love as Californian, and then baked in the POP oven Warren Zevon was known to use.

These are often sunny, sun glare bright stories, waiting while in midst shimmer, to flip over to the darkness of the over populated, ultra lonely big city night.

All Day Sucker love, have been seduced, have been hurt, scarred, saved by their city, and these are the songs, the films of the mind, that show it.

And in Riddles and Rain, this sensual tryst ‘tween the cinematic and the closely observed, transforms into a subtle classic that Brian Wilson and Craig Finn would be  proud of.

Find out more here

http://www.alldaysucker.net/

Hear both of these bands and a lot more on the NEXT NBT Podcast 26th April 09

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The CyberPR (Ariel Publicity)New Media Pioneer Interviews 7

arielblog1

New Media Pioneer: Jody Whitesides of Singleoftheday.com Blog

 

http://www.singleoftheday.com

http://www.myspace.com/jodywhitesides

 

Essentially this is a daily blog that will be a song that fits the mood the writer is in for the day or whats currently happening in the world. It will always be a band or artist th writer thinks the audience should know about, and support by purchasing the music or seeing them play live. Who knows, you might dig his taste in others enough to even support him in his creative endeavors as well.

 

Q:: How long have you been blogging?

A I’ve been doing the Single of the Day blog since June 27th, 2006. That puts me at a little over the two year mark and counting. That’s a post for every day! It’s not always easy.

 

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

A: Being that I’m a songwriter I’m probably more critical of the music I select for the blog. If I come across a song that somehow grabs me and does fit my normal ideals, I’ll point that out on the blog. I’ll explain what it is that grabs me in the song.

 

First off an intro that has a vibe that either piques my ear or draws me in is a major plus. That could be a hook of any sort, be it a vocal, a guitar, a piano, a bass, a drum, something that clearly denotes that song as soon as I hear it. Once the song comes in it has to have some sort of flow. A vibe, often times a bounce or swing. So much music these days lacks flow. How good the people playing their instruments are comes into consideration as well. Being in tune helps a bunch. With that typed, production rarely makes a bad song better. The real trick is getting me to feel it in some way. Then come the lyrics, can I remember them? Is the melody supporting those words? Does the music support that melody? Does the singer sing in tune? Do they have a voice that is pleasing to my ear? Do I get a nice journey in the lyrics? Tell me something that I can relate a portion of my life to and do it in a way that is unique.

 

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

A: I used to have favorites when I was learning to play. Once I got to a certain level of playing ability on my main instrument I no longer had favorites. Then my focus shifted to songwriting, adifferent beast from being a technically good/great musician. Some bands have had great players that are/were great writers. At this point, I really don’t have favorite bands anymore. As for genres, well… I primarily dig the all encompassing field of Rock. However, I’m very much into combining that with other genres. For my listening though, I really will listen to a lot of genres and if a song really grabs me, I’ll buy it. If the whole album is really strong, I’ll buy the album. I much prefer an album over a single. But it has to kick ass front to back. That’s hard to do, even for me (with my own releases). I think the real question is: what music gets one to part with their hard earned money. Anything that can do that is probably able to be listed as a favorite.

 

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

A: I’m probably about to shoot myself in the foot with this answer. My rep at SESAC, Derek Sivers, Brian A. Whitney, and many of my musical peers, were all really excited to hear about the blog when I started it a couple of years ago. I’m actually amazed I’m still doing it. Every single day. I tend to focus mostly on non-signed or blog/podcast friendly artists. Which makes it easy for them to give me permission to have their song play when someone visits the site. I could allow the player to play the music in the RSS feed, but I’ve opted not to do that incase I get attacked with some arcane law. In a way, I get the feeling, I’m sorta flying under the radar. Who knows what the future will bring. I don’t make anything substantial off the blog, maybe a few pennies here and there based on google ads. It’s not much money, certainly not enough to justify why I do it. I don’t take money or bribes to be on the blog either. It’s strictly stuff I choose that shows I love music, it’s that simple. If I got hit with a lawsuit, I’d first see if there’s some arrangement to avoid the lawsuit. Otherwise, I’d probably have stop the idea of playing the music and continue by only talking about it.

 

Q: A recent study found blogs to be more effective than MySpace in generating album sales, do you feel blogs have that power?

A: At risk of being a dick (I have a sticker that says, “Don’t Be A Dick”) I will say the following about Myspace. Myspace screwed themselves with poor usability. At first it was an ok way to find music and match it with fans. The closed system did not, and still does not allow for easy personalization of a page – not exactly what I would define as ‘my’ space. It took 3rd party developers to come up with ways to make myspace more useful. Smart peeps used the programs to target very specific profiles and gain fans. There was some weird belief that if you had X amount of friends on Myspace you’d get signed. So bands would spend hours a day on myspace looking for anyone to friend them.

 

Since I’m not a fan of promoting my music to other bands and vis versa, I don’t accept band requests on my myspace page. Of the 19,000 or so peeps I have there, maybe 50 are band pages in my friends list. But they’re all bands I know personally or have written with. My reason on that is: it’s a waste of time if it’s not making a sale.Which is probably why Myspace failed to really generate amazing sales for most bands, attempting to sell to other bands. I’m sure a few people got something out of myspace. I doubt you’ll see any new band come out of it now. Why? Myspace killed off all the ability to mass communicate. They’ve turned their back on the artists that helped create the site and are now bowing to the major labels. I understand it from a business sense. But it’s going to prevent them from returning to the “cool” status they had two years ago.

 

Blogs on the other hand are a whole different beast. They are generally much more personal. A way for a human to expose themselves. If that exposure of the self is something others happen to like, it ends up creating a community. When Single of the Day first got off the ground, I had a lot of people offering me suggestions to check out music. Some were great suggestions, lots of others not so much. The idea of an artist doing a review of other artists seemed to be something people really liked. My blog has morphed a bit. I’ve incorporated way more of my own musings of what I go thru as an artist into it. I remember the blog post where I made that switch. I then attempt to relate me to the song I pick in some way shape or form. I actually have no idea if people truly read it or not. My desire is readers get something from it. That something is the song. It always surprises me when people tell me “oh you know when you wrote…” it shows they are paying attention. I know artists have made sales because of Single of the Day. That makes me feel good. I also get emails from readers saying how much a song meant to them so they buy it, that’s great too.

 

I would say that if the blogger is worth reading, people will follow. It can make a great way to connect music. We all still need a filter system and a blog is a very nice niche filter.

 

The NBT Review 13

Love Or Inertia – Amy Raasch (Independent Release)

This is a love letter to the lost, and a shy note to the soon to be found. Are the dreams of those left behind stronger than the realities of the empty spaces?

How do we cope with abandonment, how do we survive the silence, where there was once enough laughter and noise to fill our most scared moments.

Do we follow a ‘wild blueprint’ (as Raasch herself puts it) and try block out the creeping thoughts of isolation, do we smash into trees to get a super hero to save us,  or dive deep into steamy seduction and let sweat and touch confuse us.

Or do we write brittle beautiful songs and confront the shadows?

Raasch has an actors focus on the tiny movements of the soul, and enough belief in the hope that shines out every new dawn, to create songs of truth and regret and ultimately salvation.

No pity here, either for herself or the wounded heroes and heroines in her seductively sung stories, but so much compassion and understanding.

Find out more and buy this CD here.

http://www.amyraasch.com

 

She Sells Smiles EP – Gee Davey (Gee Davey Productions)

In the title track to ‘Stay Positive’ by the Hold Steady, the lyrics go, ‘’When the Youth Of Today and the early 7 Seconds/Taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons’’.

Now you may ask, why quote another bands new release while reviewing the Gee Davey EP.. well its all bout how Gee Davey fuses the fairly distant past (classic rock like the Doobie Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad) into the recent more alternative past (Husker Du, Screaming Trees) and by having learnt all those ‘valuable lessons’ about melody, roughness and hints of vulnerability, creating a set of songs that live and breathe in the now and connect to hardcore and pop fans alike.

In this EP there is all the thrill of the best of the 70s rock classics without any of the stupidity and over indulgence that era flirted with, and there is the danger and wicked grins of the noise of the 80s, without the awful flipside of over produced safe metal pop.

There is a love of grunge but a wonderful ability to kick away the narcissism  that riddled that genre, and an earthiness that kicks the contrived clean myspace models..I mean bands , where it hurts most.

Get this EP and earlier releases by this great band here

http://www.geedavey.com/

 

Catch tunes from both of these releases on this week’s podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/