The NBT MusicReview 138

Older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet – Piano Magic (Saint Marie Records)

dismissed in some circles for not being ‘indie’ or minimal or pure enough (depending on the ”intellectual” creds of the writer/blog) the latest release from Piano Magic, is a slow burn alternative universe collection, exuding  a shimmering calm that only comes before or after some kind of exquisite tension.

This is the gentlest bitter, a restrained anger, no overblown dramatics, rather a sensual hypnotic even devious journey into the soul. There are words of warning here for the dishonest, the reckless, and the self satisfied, whispered with a smile rather than shouted in futility.

The band has not given up on that (previous label) 4 AD mystery, but now adds a bit of soul, a touch of world, a lot of restlessness to the mix. Imagine if you will a midnight wedding tween a New Order pop song and a David Sylvian willful experiment with just a hint of the more masculine side of Dead Can Dance and then dream on, listen on, from there and let the surprises take you at will.

The title track give a clear indication of what the writer and the band hope to convey, achieve, charting that ambiguous dangerous time, where self doubt and hopelessness can push one to the very edge, and yet somehow you pick yourself up and keep going, keep creating keep trying to express yourself.

This new album is full of such intimate ideas expertly told and wonderfully played.

Trax from This Album will be featured on the NBTMusicRadio during the following hours:

2 PM 6 PM Berlin Time (1 PM/5 PM UK and 8 AM/ 12 Midday New York)

And Both Midnight Madness Hours (midnight Berlin Time (11 PM UK) and also midnight New York Time)

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The NBT Review 135

Whitehorse – Whitehorse (Six Shooter Records)

Let’s mood swing for a moment into this new dream. Old time radio filtered captured thoughts, a lazy ghost drifting across wild western desert or is this hazy vision really Russian winter bleak? The music hints that both worlds could be here, within this fragile opening.

We are taken from this delicate tension, (almost Wim Wender Serene Soundtrack like) into the echoed dramatic of, ‘’Killing Time Is Murder’’ the ghosts become rock n roll real, a finger snapping delightfully urgent harmonic surge, the girl boy balance fine tuned, so it’s not truck driver macho or even ethereal femme detached, but rather that space in between.

Even when Luke Doucet takes on lead vocals, there is enough of Melissa McClelland’s dream pop sensibility to make these songs a wonderful fantasy version of what Okkervil River might sound like mixed lovingly with Beach House.

What delights here is that, just when you think you have tied down this duo to some genre or other, they jump/dance away from the label and throw in something else. There is haunted rock-a-billy here, there is AM radio power pop,  there are slivers of wounded wondering Folk songs and there is even that old time roots pop that the Loving Spoonful got so very right which makes their version of Springsteen’s ‘’I’m On Fire’’ a natural marvel.

Indeed they construct rare beauty in songs that make the listener think of Ryan Adams for a few seconds, then KD Lang for a few more, while never losing their own trance logic, an ‘other’ worldly shimmer that is their own.

Find out more about this incredibly seductive band here:

http://www.whitehorsemusic.ca

You can hear tracks from this album spread ALL over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio

But specially during the ‘’Essence Of The Song’’ Hours which go out every day

3 and 4 PM Berlin Time for our European listeners (2 and 3 PM UK Time)

And 9 and 10 PM New York time for our USA and Canadian Listeners.

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Burner – TERRANOVACAIN (Independent Release)

I confess to have succumbed to the jagged post punk soul of this album, so my thoughts are those of the converted, are purely spiritual , personal, chaotic random and deep as thought can be in the moment of the music, so critical detachment, a cold clear look or listen is not what happens here. But maybe like this collection, it is something more, more true to the ambition inside the rhythms

This is all oiled machine flirting though with the rust of hard use, it is all friction versus the fluid, the darkest sigh against the pounding hammer. It’s Stax era funk, folded smooth into white boy need, jittering and jerking, animated clown, loose limbed new wave under the mirrorball at 4 am in the morning.

It’s disco with abrasive guitars, it’s the Bass as half robot half panther, these songs never stop prowling, disturbing, they are electro shock without terror, but embracing the fear as a wicked jive partner.

These songs are songs of hope from a cynic’s point of view, where defeat is ever on the edge of its seat, grinning with excitement only to be surprised by the magic and love, the ultimate daring of what comes next.

My job is to listen to those that call themselves ‘’Independent’’ and I have noticed how few earn that title.

TERRANOVACAIN wear it with pride.

Find out more:

http://www.reverbnation.com/terranovacain#!

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The NBT Review 132

Living Your Dreams – Danika Holmes (Independent Release)

 

Older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

It is fitting that this album is the first reviewed of the New Year; because it speaks about the need to pick yourself up and get fighting, get dreaming again, something that the artist needs to do a fair deal as their turbulent lives roll on. During the opening track, Holmes does not shout at us like a pumped cheerleader, all huge smiles and desperation, but rather quietly along a delicate groove, country soul subtle, no self help thing this but rather self aware and so much better for it.

The writer balances this on the title track and the track, ‘’How To Be Beautiful’’ with the realisation that dreams must be personal things as well, that each person must make his or her own way through, the former comes wrapped in a rich and romantic arrangement that should guarantee it a long and happy life on many a radio station.

With the single, ‘’Bluebird’’ Holmes goes all pop ballad stadium on us, the kind of song that the Taylor Swifts of this business would love to have on their next album. Again the restraint and subtle production is a joy ensuring that a grumpy alternative like myself can get into this, just as much as the housewife and the business man.

What we watch here with this second album, is an artist refining what makes her songs work, letting the musicians smoothly have their say, while never losing sight of what she wants to say and how she wants to say it.

This bodes incredibly well for her release after this one, as she leaves behind the internal and  starts to dive into the larger world, but this excellent set will more than suffice for now and will touch many a lucky listener who discovers it.

You can hear trax from this album spread all over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio, but specially during the hours of  9 PM New York Time and for the European Listeners 3 PM (Berlin Time) which is 9 AM New York Time.
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Find out more about Ms Holmes here:
http://www.danikaholmes.com

The NBT Review 130

older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

The NBT Review 130

Lossless – Lilo (Independent Release)

Reviewed by by Cobus Rossouw AKA 88KOS

Picture © Ryan Joffe

Confession: This album has so many personal touchpoints for me that it is inevitable that this will be a good review. The source of this bias is threefold and relates to the personnel on LILO’s new album “lossless”.

The first is Alexander Sudheim. He has been the genius behind LILO for more than a decade, running through many incarnations. Once, many years ago we shared the stage for two nights, at the Abelarde Sanction and at Silver Creek in Pretoria. He has steadily championed an alt country/lo-fi aesthetic and I rank him alongside Malkmus as inspiration. If you can find “Light me a Lucifer” from 2002, buy it.

Lossless, his latest offering, also features the talents of Chris Letcher and Richard Haslop. Chris Letcher is responsible (alongside Matthew van der Want) for one of my favourite albums of all time, “Low Riding”, and Richard possesses the kind of musical knowledge that means he is always right about everything musically. His print articles are part of my staple diet of music lit and his radio shows (when I managed to catch them) have always been enlightening in their scope and depth. He also plays a truly mean guitar!

So you have a trio of minds; a challenger of convention, a musical savant and a library of all that has gone before, contributing to a stripped down collection of songs. Forgive me if reviewing this effort is therefore slightly daunting.

The songs are, with the exception of “Forgiven” and “To FloreAnne on her 25th birthday”, arranged for guitars and voice. This leaves space for the songs to build an atmospheric tension, the kind you feel before a highveld thunderstorm. Sudheim’s lyrical intensity is undiminished (how do you maintain this kinda output for over a decade?) and his words carry the songs throughout. No mean feat considering there are 17 tracks on this offering. The density of his imagery is such that the album only unfolds after several listens. This doesn’t mean it’s a hard listen, in fact the music is immediately accessible and for an album of such sparse arrangement there is ample instrumental meaning underpinning Sudheim’s voice. Letcher’s skills as an arranger and Haslop’s way with a guitar create the perfect backdrop for Sudheim’s dark muse.

Honestly, sometimes I don’t even know how they’ve achieved this sublime sound. When Butcher Boy unfurls into techicolour rivers of strings (at 1:50), combining, flowing, twining… I find myself transported to a place where only Tindersticks could have taken me before. It’s a heaven that I love, it’s what angels sound like in my religion. If that single minute was all they’d produced I’d still feel they were gods, but this beauty doesn’t stop, each track builds its own character. Take “Sonnet for Tamara” – here the guitar builds from a simple twanging figure over a slide guitar into shimmering surf chords that eventually break into distorted walls of reverb wash. It’s like an anxiety attack that hangs behind the lyrics and it makes my little brain pop.

Lyrically there are recurring themes of circular reference, exercises in futility, failures in understanding. The loves, the hurts, all the despair is carved out in relief, our detachment, our inability to deal with each other in any honest manner, all laid bare. A way with words, Sudheim should get far more attention from the South African music press and I can only hope that more of them will listen to this album.

Lossless is almost entirely flawless. I say almost because there is one track that I simply do not understand. Not the song itself, but the way in which it is presented. It’s a personal feeling, a personal preference that makes the last song on the album a bit of a letdown, but the first 16 songs are of such transcendent quality that I would not be surprised to find that I am alone in this sentiment.

You can hear tracks from this album spread ALL over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio

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The NBT Review 127

older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Native Sons (deluxe reissue) – The Long Ryders

by Cobus Rossouw AKA 88KOS

Reviewing a reissue of an important and influential album from 1984 is a very challenging prospect for someone who has never heard the original. Some of the greatest albums ever made cannot stand outside of the context of their time and so it’s worth pausing to reflect on the history surrounding The Long Ryders’ “Native Sons”

By 1984 the genre of country-rock had been reduced to a pale shadow of its potential. While bands such as the Eagles had produced memorable songs and had advanced the style in terms of popularity, lyrical content had suffered and so this music had become associated with an anodyne middle-of-the-road sensibility.

Bear in mind that by this time The Sex Pistols had been and gone and the charts were filled with Culture Club, Keny Loggins and Lionel Richie. By the end of 1984 a day-glo Wham would plead with us to wake them up before they went.

The Long Ryders’ Native Sons entered into this market perception with a set of songs that, musically, embraced every riff, bassline and phrasing in the country-rock canon albeit with far more lyrical meaning than their immediate genre predecessors. The impact of the album was such that it peaked at number 2 on the NME Indie Charts in 1985, only kept out of the number 1 spot by Meat is Murder.

Look no further than “Ivory Tower” for this content. In two verses the Ryders sum up today’s slacktivist culture as if they had been privy to some prophecy.

In their version of Mel Tillis’ “Sweet Mental Revenge” I hear tribute to the vocal style of David Byrne, in “Tell it to the Judge on Sunday” there are moments when the voice of John Lydon calls out instructions and “Wreck of the 809” could have been included on “Sandinista”. The music on this pays homage but stands on its own feet, stands tall.

It’s a fascinating album, always surprising and filled with meaning. This is a band that could play anything, in any style. From the bass on “Wreck” to the banjo on “Never got to meet the mom” every instrument is appropriate and perfectly played. This combines with a vocal capability that manages to reference (as far as I’m concerned) every significant vocal contribution in the preceding 30 years. On top of that they do this without ever sounding like a gimmick, everything blisters with intensity, the Long Ryders mean every word.

I should have listened to “I had a Dream” in 1984.

you can tracks from this album all over the 24 hour stream of indie music that is The NBTMusicRadio and you can loads of cool 88KOS songs too!

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The NBT Review 126

The Razor-blade Diaries – Revel 9 (Independent Release)

It’s not surprising that as the music rumbles into the room, that the first thing noticed is a tension filled sense of urgency. The sound of a fighter jet rolling over stony ground, the opening song is all forward movement and longing to fly, and as the singer growls, ‘I think I’ve had enough of this’ true take off is achieved.

 This sleek new machine, is polished with modern noise, is tough yet compact, is vigorous and concentrated, this machine was built to find the dark beauty within the hard rock song.

 Each song produced is an acute abbreviated missile of thoughts, a desire to survive the destructive emotional, a race against rest, bullet time urgent. This is no slacker US punk, though this IS punk in a way, just as it’s traditional hard rock pop, though forsaking the glamour, worshipping the impact, then moving on, always moving on.

 This set is designed to breakthrough, though without comprise, it is that one bright clear thought as the disease breaks and the  battle continues. There is no excess, no flab, no wasting air or moments,

 They took their time getting here, sure, but now, with supreme confident insistence they rule.

 I had almost given up on this form of the independent tune, but my faith is restored.

 Go here to get it:

http://www.revel9.com/

 The Sex Injury Sessions/The Pleasant Peasant Sessions – The Simpletone (Demo Release)

 Opening title , Elysium, recalls the dirty swagger of Grand Funk Railroad,uncomplicated, enduring and jubilant, if this is the place where the Gods dwell, then it is a place in flux, the minutes between one glorious battle and the next.

 The strength here is the bands ability to switch moods and tempo without sacrificing the flow and atmosphere, these are immense presentations wrapped around something rather soulful and intimate.

 That these are Demos add to the charm and it will take a producer of great skill not to over polish , fix what does not need to be fixed, cause these songs are bewitching yet human, ambiguous and yes weirdly for something as heavy as some of the stuff here strangely serene.

 Simply put this is a band that you want to invest in, want to watch grow and conquer and evolve

 http://www.myspace.com/thesimpletoneband

 Various Songs – Eudora Fletcher (independent )

 And now lets dive bravely into the chaos, oh this ragged noise uplifts the soul, edgy ironic cheeky wicked, ink smudge mosh pit frantic. Alive

 yes these are dance songs but messy murky hold your breath, fling yourself in get wooshed out dance songs, bang bang a shout and a whoop and its into the next piece of loud grin turmoil.

 Fun.  That fun that makes you sweat and is primal pop heatwave silly (in a VERY good way)

 there is the essence of nuggets era garage, and the sly glee of a cramped club,and again, a band to watch but not even be aware that you are watching, there is no real space for thoughts of the future here, cause these songs are totally for the absolute second that you are in them.

Even alone at my computer, when I play these I can FEEL the bruise bash of the kids bouncing hard into me as the chords ricochet, jump and jive.

Come on
join in

http://www.myspace.com/eudorafletcher

 you can hear tracks from all these bands on the NBTMusicRadio spread over the 24 hour stream,

go get plugged in and taken away, spread the cultural virus.

These bands are the ANTIDOTE to the bland, the ordinary of the Mainstream.

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The NBT Review 125

older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

Reader’s Wives reviewed by Martin Smit

Quiet Rebellion reviewed by Beth Wimmer

Rachel’s Apartment – Reader’s Wives (Independent Release)

 Bam Pow
lets get this angry funny party started, with some rolling stone swagger, slightly treated vocals to add the just right spoonful of
bitter, of cool detachment. Speeding down the 100word per 30 second highway, NameDropping,RockRolling PoP Driven. Your dancing before you know it.

 Imagine now, if Morrissey had a fetish for the kinda anthem Green Day churnout, but twisted it into something fragile and internal while strutting across the floor to enter stage dive heaven, these disaffected are burdened and blessed with fierce intellect, so no
pandering to the stupid, rather grinning wicked with the clever.

 Flirting with indie disco even, (I bet the remix boys hover ) these are brittle beautiful shocks of the modern pop, ready to be waved
festival flags at, but not sacrificing the spark of the watcher, the loner, the kid with the notebook mind and camera memory.

 Fatima Mansions’ Cathal Coughlan adds the fear to ‘ Isadora Duncan’ but this is no one outsider and backing band collection. The band, the instruments, the voice function as a complete weapon of mass seduction, they are, like we love them, isolated,almost untouchable, yet speaking to only us, Saturday night, just before the pubs open,singing with us in the nightclub crush, dreaming with us on the long journey home.

 https://www.facebook.com/rachelsapartment

 

Still Talking Scribble – Quiet Rebellion (Independent release)

Quiet Rebellion is a perfect name for Shaun T Hunter’s project. The songs on this album, “Still Talking Scribble” are filled with deep, important, and often unsettling questions for the single soul and for humanity itself.

Hunter plays every instrument on this lush and gorgeous collection of songs for humanity. Beautiful vocal tapestries are woven into colorful, rich beds, and the words sung to us haunt with messages on being a healthy human in this uncertain world. The mystical melodies deliver poignant observations and strong statements on living in the moment, being accepting of others, and growing to reach full potential as a people.

The first track, ‘Soon’, lulls us in from the start, echoing our dream state minds back to us, reminding us that “soon, you will realize the treasure lays in the questions not the answers…”

In ‘Beneath The Wings Of A Dragon’, the feathery and uplifting guitar is complemented with Hunter’s sweet, firm and clear voice… “…narrrow-minded vision don’t deserve this wide expansive space… still attached to the outcome when only the journey should count.”

With sweet passion and delightful melody in ‘The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend’, Hunter sings “shoot me down, shoot me down, i cannot fix you, cannot mend… for the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” and “don’t you know that the easiest person in the world to fool is yourself…” A surprising and fresh take on being accepting of yourself and others. The songs winds down with haunting yet uplifting vocals reaching toward the heavens.

The interplay of lilting, hypnotic guitars and vocals are an inviting and calming way to hear Quiet Rebellion’s messages of love and acceptance. With his simple yet worldly tinged production I am calmed, made comfortable, and centered by listening to “Still Talking Scribble”– all 15, beautiful songs.

The song ‘Substitute Silence For Noise’ addresses our tendencies to not stay in the moment – our tendencies to be distracted and to sadly, all too often, forget the sacred things like silence, peace, or even secrets. “…another minor distraction from a major decision…” “…secrets are something we tell everybody to tell no one…”

Quiet Rebellion’s new release “Still Talking Scribble” should not be a secret from anyone! “Still Talking Scribble” is a beautiful, spirit-moving album that stirs the soul, invites introspection, and inspires the mind!

http://quietrebellion.get-ctrl.com

you can hear lots of tracks from both these releases on the NBTMusicRadio
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