Nathan Felix is a bit of a staple at Independent Clauses: his band The Noise Revival (sometimes The Noise Revival Orchestra) made its first appearance at IC in early 2006 and has been in its pages ever since. Most recently, TNRO contributed a fully orchestrated version of “Brand New Colony” to Never Give Up. It’s his love of orchestras that propels this latest news clip: Felix, not content with having a rock band that is also kind of an orchestra, is composing directly for orchestras now. Along these lines, he was recently invited to the Levon Manukyan Collegium Musicum Summer Program for Emerging Composers in Bourgas, Bulgaria to record a new orchestral piece.
But he needs your help to get there! You can contribute via this page. He’s currently got about $3K more to go. Here’s a local news reel documenting Felix’s new-found love of composing:
They’re using IndieGoGo for the campaign, which closes at the end of the month. So far they’ve received $21,100 of their $60,000 goal. I jumped in the first day the project was open, because I believe in this project and really want this to happen. Check it out.
“Come Thou Fount”:
“Till Kingdom Come” (originally by Coldplay):
And more of that could be in the world. Let’s help make that happen.
This project has been a microcosm of my whole 10 years running this blog: a little idea that got bigger and bigger with help from all sorts of people who pitched in. Massive thanks go out to The Carradini Family, Uncle David and Aunt Rose, the Lubbers Family, Neil Sabatino & Mint 400 Records, Albert & Katy, Drew Shahan, Odysseus, Joseph Carradini, Jeffrey M. Hinton, Esq., @codybrom a.k.a Xpress-O, Conner ‘Raconteur’ Ferguson, Janelle Ghana Whitehead, Tyler “sk” Robinson, Jake Grant, Anat Earon, Zack Lapinski, Mila, Tom & April Graney, Stephen Carradini, Theo Webb, Jesse C, D. G. Ross, Martin & Skadi, Jacob Presson, Michelle Bui, and Elle Knop.
The first 200 downloads of the album are free, so go get ’em while they’re available! (The price is $4 a side once the freebies are gone.) The streaming will always be free, so if nothing else you can go listen to some sweet tunes from some of Independent Clauses’ favorite bands. Once again, thanks to all who contributed in any way, both to the project and to Independent Clauses’ last 10 years. It’s been a thrilling, wild ride.
Never Give Up: Celebrating 10 Years of the Postal Service
Austinites The Noise Revival Orchestra toured China, and they made a 13-minute tour documentary. This mesmerizing video is not your average tour doc at all, and you should check it out the first chance you get. Which is right now, if you’re reading this. Seriously. Do it.
Remember that whole “Quiet Is the New Loud” movement that Kings of Convenience were at the front of in the 2000s? I loved that stuff. So did, apparently, Australians Breaking Hart Benton, whose lovely video for “More Than You Deserve” evokes both the beauty of the acoustic tune and the alienness of the past.
So the actual video for Phosphorescent’s “Song for Zula” is not the main draw here: I mostly just want you to listen to the heartbreakingly beautiful “Song for Zula” again.
Not gonna lie, Deb Oh and the Cavaliers’ video for “Primacy” reads like a a/v version of “What Hipsters Love.” But there’s a reason we love fencing, and globes, and slo-mo water droplets, and ink blots in water: because they’re fun to watch. (Also because they’re indicative of certain social structures that…oh nevermind, it’s just fun to watch.)
It should be obvious at this point that I’m a sucker for a pop song by a acoustic-instrument folk collective. But The Noise Revival Orchestra‘s latest tunes, which fall squarely into the aforementioned category, were a bit baffling to me. The last TNRO release I reviewed was To The Seven Churches In The Province Of Asia, which was an intriguing post-rock effort. There have been intervening releases, which other writers for Independent Clauses covered; somewhere in there I missed a dramatic stylistic shift. Their press says that it happened for this album specifically, and that would be an abrupt shift indeed if that were the case.
This is sort of a bummer; I miss TNRO’s old sound. I thought it was vibrant and thoughtful. However, I begrudge them not their new direction; nothing is constant in music but change. Songs of Forgiveness is a strong 20-minute, 5-song EP that shows a confident sound and interesting melodic ideas.
But they can’t fully escape their post-rock bent; having subsisted previously on primarily instrumental melodies in the post-rock realm, their retained sense of melody is a welcome aspect of their new sound. The title track has sweeping cinematic “oh-ay-oh-ay-ohs,” and closer “Sapphire” has a long instrumental intro featuring violin. The title track also features a uniquely syncopated rhythm throughout, giving the song an unusual quality among most straight-four-count folk tunes. “Crushing On You” has a similar highly refined sense of rhythm.
And, get this: there’s a massive key change and distorted bass guitar in the title track. This is pretty much still a post-rock band at heart, just writing pop songs that happen to sound like a folk collective because of their choice of instrumentation.
“Dance the Night Away” and “When I Was 8” have the ornamentation and rhythm, but they are dominated more by the vocals than the instrumental performance. These tracks are less effective; the male vocals are good, but they’re not the most compelling part of this band. The sound works better when the instruments lead the voices through the song, and not vice versa.
Overall, this is an incredibly unique and interesting EP. Critics are fickle, always asking bands to change or not change, depending on what we like or dislike about them. (Sorry.) The Noise Revival Orchestra has pulled off the rare feat of moving forward in their sound while still retaining things that made them great. If you’re interested in progressive, well-arranged pop songs, you should definitely be looking over here.
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.