In which Marc Presley embarks on a nostalgic voyage and delivers an intricate review of Andrew Kay’s new album. This is bookended by two short mini reviews by Martin Smit (creator/owner of the NBTMusicRadio) of tracks from artists featured across our 24 hour stream
Anilore – Mimicry and Murmur (from the album ‘’Lull’’)
In the Bandcamp notes for the album, Andrew Malenda calls the music ‘lonely’, but I will have to respectfully disagree, this (and especially this track) is all about contact, with like minds, battling against the timid, the ignorant, the vast deliberate unknowing. It is children holding hands in a storm, adults sharing half secrets once hidden in shy smiles. Uplifting and beautiful the song creates victory from quiet tragedies. It is rare to find such a balanced almost non dramatic mood inside the so called ‘shoegaze’ genre or such (rock) weight within ambient pieces and while the music recalls both the Rachels and Charalambides, there is a clutter and sigh that is all their own.
Andrew Kay – Brand New Suit (A Review By Marc Presley)
(buy it here: https://nbtmusicradio.bandcamp.com/album/brand-new-suit)
I don’t recall the first time I met Andrew, but I do remember the first time I saw him play. It was at the Rhodes University Great Hall in 1983.
I don’t recall the main act that his band, New Releases, was supporting, but I think it may have been Via Afrika. The reason I don’t recollect what the headline band was is that New Releases were so startlingly inspired and original, that they owned the event.
At the time, Rhodes was heavily inhabited by “Rhodesian” expats: mostly bitter, racist frat boys, and Andrew spat “The Rugger Bugger Rap” at them while Mark Osborn ran around like a mental patient freed from his straitjacket, in pyjamas, bashing a steel tray with an Old Brown Sherry bottle.
I was in awe.
I grew up in Uitenhage, a small, conservative town. For me, South African music was dudes in pubs playing “Hotel California”, and Juluka’s hard-to- find first record. After seeing New Releases and Not Even the TV, I was utterly blown away. I would never have picked up a guitar, nor ever stood in front of a microphone (unless being questioned by the police) without those two bands.
We became really close when I failed Sociology 3 and had to repeat. Andy was doing the same course, and we had immense fun with a prissy new lecturer, Afrikaans, who was slathered in make-up, wearing high-heeled shoes straight out of a porn movie, fresh out of uni, teaching the course on, of all things, Marxist feminism. We would sit together in her class with our feet up on the desks, chain-smoking, snarling and flicking ash on the floor. She once asked us, incredulously, “are you ALLOWED to smoke in here?” Andrew’s like, “we’re lumpen proletarians!” I’m, “It’s the means of production!”. That kinda stumped her. The poor woman.
After moving to Johannesburg, I formed Live Jimi Presley, and Andrew and Mark Osborn formed a two-piece, Pulse. Later Mark went on to spawn Sparky’s Magic Piano, and even later Mark and Andrew teamed up with Tilo von Brandis to create Tardishead. We were all very close. Hung out together, and shared rehearsal space.
Apologies for the rather long-winded introduction, but it is needed as a caveat for any perceived bias. Andrew’s one of my dearest, most beloved friends, yet I shall, in all honesty, try my best to give an objective critique of the record.
Here goes, then.
Firstly, don’t expect any information in or on the album’s sleeve. There is none. There is a small ball on the front and back, and the colour of the ball varies, depending on which edition you got. Inside, there is a song listing. That’s it. No production credits, no songwriting credits, no musician credits, no blurb; nada, zilch, just sweet fuck-all.
And I love that. It’s only the songs. That’s what Andrew’s always been about: the songs. Nothing to see here. Just put it on and listen.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: the songs. Because you know, songs are kinda the most important thing about a record. I hope nobody minds my comparisons to other bands, as Andrew’s influences are abundant and clear.
#1: We’ll be together
I have a special fondness for this one. I’ve always maintained that in another time and another place, it would have been a chart-topper. Most pop songs sound simple, but try playing Beatles and Abba songs.
I played rhythm guitar live on a couple of occasions as a guest for this song, and I had to practice for weeks. It’s pretty complex. I think it’s gorgeous. What I like is that Andrew has retained his original guide vocal; gritty and edgy. The slide guitar is magnificent. However, I have two problems with this production: 1:The brass is great, but I would have liked to hear the original guitar riff over it on occasion. 2: Remove the “baybeee”s. Try it. It sounds much better.
#2: Lucy in the sky with headphones
This is the best production on the record. Lush and gorgeous. It showcases how Andrew is one of the very few indie SA artists who can actually sing and harmonize. A marvelously constructed piece of psychedelia.
Produced by Tilo von Brandis. Respect
#3: God refused to hear
Excellent lyrics, but I just can’t get Santana out of my head when I hear it. Lame ending. Marc refused to hear.
#4: Book of love
I’ve said this before: the guitars sound like The Verve; the vocals Gabrielesque. It’s nice.
#5: Friday morning month end
The most intensely personal song on the record. I have a great admiration for artists who can document the everyday with sincerity and honesty. A good little country song, reminiscent of Neil Young and Kris Kristofferson’s more candid moments. I want to cry every time I hear the Max lyric.
David Bowie circa Aladdin Sane. I’m surprised Andrew hasn’t been sued for this. Still, a solid pop song, though. Andrew writes good pop songs. Lovely piano.
#7: Ear of an innocent
Hmm. Seagulls. That’s original.
I find the verses a little Syd Barretty, but the chorus is sublime. Love the bongos or congas or whatever they are.
#8: Long dark road
My favourite. What Andrew has done here is miraculous: combined the sadness and melancholy of traditional Country with lilting, joyous instrumentation. The incongruity and contradiction is astounding. A very clever and virtuosic piece of music, with a bit of Rock ‘n Roll thrown in for good measure. I’m always astonished to hear non-Americans play Country so well.
#9: Fat Elvis
Solid pop song. Great brass. A tight piece of Rock that may have been better as a ska song. Just my opinion.
A nice Britpop Beatles thingie. Sounds too much like Oasis, though.
11: Revolution of love
I like this one. It’s one of Andrew’s older songs. Lenny Kravitz guitar with Ministry vocals. One of the less retro songs on the record.
12: Baiting Mr Big
I’m torn here. Whilst I love this song and was involved with Sparky’s Magic Piano, I cannot fathom why it’s on the record. It’s great that it’s getting out to an audience that have never heard it, but it’s a Mark Osborn song. Andrew doesn’t even play on it.
13: Big time love celebration
A great song. Andrew in celebratory mood. He tends to do that under the most dire stress. The most positive person I’ve ever met. But stop with the fucking “bayyybeees” already!
In conclusion, Andrew Kay is probably the most unrecognized, inspired and eclectic pop artist to come out of my generation. The fact that he is a consummate musician as well as a wonderful person, notwithstanding. The record is technically flawless. He just writes fucking beautiful music.
Again buy it HERE: https://nbtmusicradio.bandcamp.com/album/brand-new-suit
you can also buy it in a bundle with the NBTMusicRadio Compilation (25 songs from 9 countries) AND the NBT theme song single..at huge discount.
Ric Gordon – I Will Always Be There (from the album ‘’ Standing Here’’)
Mr Gordon runs the Russian Winter Records label which is as eclectic with its roster as is NBT with its playlist, shoegaze, punk and electro all find a happy home there, but with this EP he takes a different route. Combining elements of Byrd like jangle attached to a Nick Lowe way with melody and lyric, this could almost be called acoustic new wave and this track in particular would have found a most welcome home on a Stiff Records compilation back in the day. Remarkably it is not at all dated nor does it have that feel of the deliberate ‘retro’ that sadly is now so in fashion, rather it is honest, timeless and rather damn catchy. Lovely stuff
all this music can be found swimming freely deep down in the ocean of sound that is the NBTMusicRadio-Two
(Always: wonderful works in progress)