Chill Out, Drown Out: Resplendent, In Vivid

Chill Out Drown Out: music for when you need to, well, chill out, and also drown out extraneous noise. Tunes for calming down and concentrating on important tasks or just having a peaceful time in the middle of a hurricane of a day/week/month/year/existence.

I occasionally feel bad when my highest recommendation for something is “this is excellent background noise,” but – it is truly one of the finest accolades I can give. It means the music has successfully walked the fine line between “delicate, beautiful, but unobtrusive, integrates well into the process of multi-tasking” and “so boring I forgot the first song half-way through.”

Resplendent, by In Vivid (Ben Snook, of Lawrence, KS) is indeed delicate and beautiful. The swirling textures and gently propulsive energy make it – for me, at least – ideal for tasks that require concentration and creativity. And, best of all, it stands up to repetition; I listened to it three times in a row one night last week and never got sick of it.

Here are three songs to whet your appetite, chosen at least in part because I liked the titles.

Lightswitch Indicator: The second song on the record, this one is … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Lee Knowles, The Incredible Magpie Band

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

The Incredible Magpie Band (Lee Knowles (vox/guitar), Lou Taylor (bass/vox), Ben Hardcastle (lead guitar/vox), Matty Davey (guitar), Ewok Layton (drums/percussion), of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, recently released their debut single This Chose Me as well as b-side Money, and they are both a rollicking good time:

And now I turn the floor over … Continue reading

Wax Fang, The Astronaut

Wax Fang - The Astronaut Cover

The Astronaut, by Wax Fang, is everything you would want from a space opera: lush, sweeping, majestic, a little bit mysterious, and, since it’s about a lone space traveler who gets separated from his vessel, sucked into a black hole, and made into an interstellar god, a little bit tragic, too.

After I had listened to it a couple of times, I had some questions for the band:

Why a space opera?

We wanted to do something big and bold, something experimental and transcendental that was in accord with our tastes in art and music. A metaphysical musical adventure set in the deep reaches of outer space just seemed like a perfect fit for us.

At first I thought the three singles [The Blonde Leading the Blonde, Hearts Are Made For Beating, King of The Kingdom of Man] were independent of the space opera, but after repeated listenings to both works, the singles now sound, to me, like they should be part … Continue reading

Get More Gritty: Again and Again

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Again and Again, of Seattle, who I learned about from Twitter. After I had poked around their website a little bit and listened to a couple of songs, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. After getting past some technical difficulties, drummer XwesX (Wes Keely) (center) and I had the following email chat:


Who was in which band, previously, and how did you get together to form Again and Again? And who does what in Again and Again – did anyone switch roles (or instruments) from previous bands?

OK, well, to start this off, Dutch VI (above left) plays guitar, Geoffrey C Walker (above right) sings, and I play drums. We had a few other members over the years, but at the current moment this is the core group, and we have a few fill in bass players that go out on tour with us from time to time. Geoffrey used to sing in the Victory Records band called On The Last Day based out … Continue reading

London Calling: Good Dangers

This band’s information floated over our transom with the following e-note appended:

We wrote these songs in our living rooms

We recorded them

We moved to north london so it was easier

We didn’t always agree

but that’s ok

We made some art to go with the music

We made videos which took longer

We have all been in other bands – this is our favourite

Good Dangers is – Maxim, Gavin, Johny, Jenny & Howard

I listened to their songs and watched their video(s), and later, upon adding Abigail to my daily playlist (listen to it streaming at bandcamp), I found myself humming along and tapping my pencil to the beat while I worked. And then I took it upon myself to do some further investigation. Lead singer Gavin (top right) expanded as follows:

Naturally the first question is going to be: Which bands were you in before?

That’s a bit of a secret, we like … Continue reading