Spotlight issue 27

Niles Thomas - Flower Of Sin

Niles Thomas is currently being labelled the "King of Chill" and his music is what is apparently called SensuallyEclectic. He's doing pretty well for an unsigned artist - one of his tracks, "Lady Luck" is being used in this season's "Sex and the City" and is also being considered for use in "Queer As Folk". Time for our assessment then.

N: "If Sting and Sade had a lovechild, the result would be Niles Thomas". More likely Trudi would be taking Mr.Sumner through the divorce courts. But seriously this is a good simile drawn, but not mine. So maybe remember Michael Hutchence's dance foray with Max Q, Niles has rubbed this down, added a dash of Miles Davis, and produced music with at times a dance/jazz fusion, whilst others slick pop drawing on any number of references along the way. I think the most stunning memory you will glean however will be Niles' songwriting capability, be it lyrical or musical, this is bound to leave the audience with a warm feeling inside.

T: The boy has a huge future ahead of him in my opinion. As laid back as you can get. A soundtrack for those of us who choose to sleep through the lion's share of the day and don't come alive until the twilight hours. This deserves to be massive. 9/10



The Devius - Predilicktion

After coming together in the summer of 2001 through a mutual love of Hip Hop and R 'n' B, this duo has been working recently on a new album due for release shortly. Both members hail from the city of Leicester and have been developing their sound on the underground music scene.

T: Ok, well I'd never diss an entire genre of music, but to be frank, this kind of stuff has never really oiled my loins too much. I can't escape worrying visions of the Blazin' Squad and East 17 whilst listening to this. Alright, maybe that's a little harsh, but at least I'm saying it's commercial enough to appeal to the nation's record buying children.

N: Yeah their music seems produced to a tried and tested formula, although perhaps it's down to this that it is ultimately listenable. I would like to hear more than just variations on the same tune. I liked their songwriting, and they may have gained full marks on this basis alone if they were to expand on the theme. 6/10



Jusvon - I'm Jusvon

JusVon began playing drums at the age of three and continued this gift by playing in church. He had his first professional studio experience with Taj Mahal when he was just fourteen. He has since played with such blues legends as Artie White, The Drifters, Percy Sledge and the Platters amongst others. He is now a highly sought after blues vocalist. Hmmm...I thought this page was for unknown artists...

N: I think actually it's Unsigned artists, but for me this has the same feel as the first time I discovered Robert Cray on his "Strong Persuader" album, I said "feel" and I have to confess to there not being quite the same finesse as on the aforementioned. In fact, recording of this album leaves a lot to be desired.

T: I actually quite like that though - the rough edges that make you feel as though you are actually listening to an artist from the era that JusVon so obviously takes his inspiration from. Think Otis Redding, MArvin Gaye and Wilson Pickett - I think he's achieved that.

N: I know I shouldn't be letting this get in the way of hearing the music, but overextended levels - which they are - tend to have that effect. Although, the further I'm finding my way into this collection, the warmer I'm feeling. Perhaps sixteen tracks is too many, and if honed down, might keep my attention for longer. 7/10



Munkster - Help Me Breathe

Hailing from North London,the band has been playing live for over two years now and are currently working on their debut album "Everyday Could Be the Same".

T: This sounds so much like The Divine Comedy it's unreal. It's also quite similar to Geneva, The Grim Northern Social and, to a lesser extent, Menswear. Having said that, it's pretty much an inoffensive little "indie by numbers" tune, followed by a track that could have been an early Police number.

N: "Help Me Breathe" I have to say is a fine lead track, with very little to criticise, maybe the closing strings could be more fitting to the rest of the song. The second track to which you refer, I'd rather just pass by and skip to the natural follow up to the first tune - "If You Want Me In", a song with sensitivity and melody that makes it more than a b-side. 8/10



Daniel Patrick Quinn - The Winter Hills

Lancastrian Quinn has a taste in music that belies his young age of 22, with influences ranging from Nico, Robert Wyatt and Jon Hassell to erstwhile Roxy Music member and innovator Brian Eno. Good on him.

T: And all of those influences can be heard to tremendous effect on this CD. I sincerely hope though, that the guy is doing this stuff purely for his own enjoyment rather than hoping to make any money from it! Don't get me wrong, this actually appeals to me in all its darkness - it actually reminds me of seventies flick "The Wicker Man" somewhat. It's certainly more than interesting anyway!

N: I can see the likeness you draw there, quite Celtic in its composition, but as I think you were getting at, music perhaps appealing to quite a niche market. I would have to congratulate the artist however, on producing a composition of quite complex structure. Although, as we arrive at the hour long jura, have to ask ourselves questions. DPQ may be considered more a producer than artist.

T: And he sounds oddly like David Gedge at times too... 7/10



Avenpitch - Avenpitch

Avenpitch's debut album apparently features "bubblegum keyboard melodies and jagged guitar riffs (that) run rampant and occasionally collide.

T: The funny thing that I can't help thinking here is that Todd Millenacker sounds ridiculously like Shaggy from Scooby Doo when he sings!

N: Yikes Scooby, it's a synthesizer!

T: Having said that, Avenpitch will be pleased to hear that Shaggy was my favourite character in the cartoon by some stretch. It actually makes me laugh listening to this. It's pretty wacky and frantic and I do actually like it quite a lot. New Order, Public Enemy and Motley Crue are all listed as major influences and you can, at selected points, hear all three of these within the music here. I do think however, that these guys should seriously consider selling to Hannah Barbera.

T: I don't see Hannah Barbera. More a meeting of Super Mario Brothers and Nine Inch Nails. Perhaps they should consider approaching Nintendo... 7/10



Pistol For A Paycheck - Into the Arms of the Mother of Hate

This band have had parallels made with the likes of Mudhoney, the Refused, At the Drive-In, Bad Religion and The Smiths amongst others. Their goal has always been to strengthen the underground music scene and create opportunities to present their unique, raw and garage-rock oriented punk across the Pacific NW.

T: The Smiths? HUH? They were one of my favourite bands. This group, whilst not wanting to put them down for what they do (and they do it well), appeal to me about as much as having my nose soldered to my left leg.

N: For me this sounds horrendously like a band working through ideas and not a collection of songs worthy of full release. They just appear to have thrown too many ideas at the sound recordist in the hope that what comes out at the other end will work. Perhaps more a collection of ideas. 4/10



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