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Nightingale News - Bell Rope

Coy Campbell’s Nightingale News is something of a musical revelation, at least to my ears. Immediately upon first listen of the band’s (which is seemingly more of a collective) 2019 release Bell Rope, I thought of a fellow Lowcountry band, Band of Horses. There’s a very similar approach to melody and chord progressions between Campbell and BOH’s Ben Bridwell.

Of course, Campbell’s music is more roots oriented and acoustic-leaning than Band of Horses. But there’s a similar spirit in the songwriting that couldn’t be ignored, from the minute you hear “Ophiuchus.” What’s great about Bell Rope is that it’s painted with a very dark and moody brush, but the instrumentation typically lends itself to a facet of folk and Americana that is usually much more jubilant and even celebratory-sounding.

That’s the brilliance here, though—it’s like if the Avett Brothers made a Sparklehorse record. There’s darkness and bright light mixed together in the production and delivery. Take “Mob Surgeon,” for example. That song accomplishes the very difficult task of marrying ambience, acoustic sensibilities, and melodic darkness. It’s not done in a “House of the Rising Sun” kind of way that you hear so frequently with storyteller Americana these days. It’s done very authentically and doesn’t adhere to any standard in terms of how a song like that should sound or be performed.

In fact, the whole record is like that. It’s folk music for people who’ve maybe heard too much folk music. It strives to sound different, and succeeds. Campbell is a remarkably effective and profound writer, who isn’t afraid to weave weird sounds and noises into his recordings or approach acoustic music with an indie rock mindset. There have been artists to do this before, of course, but Nightingale News can certainly join the ranks of those who do it right.

For more on Nightingale News, visit nightingalenews.bandcamp.com

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Basik Lee - 7

I covered Basik Lee’s album, 7, when it was released in early 2019. I wanted to take the time to review it, though, because it deserves its due. This is a concept album that, in just seven songs, accomplishes what concept albums with double the songs aren’t often able to do. Lyrically and thematically, it achieves its goal but it also goes beyond just feeling like a concept album.

What that means is, the songs are just good. The production is ridiculously great. Basik has a flow that I really can’t compare to anyone else. Of course, there’s influences here from different eras of hip hop, but what he’s done is fuse different styles of delivery and create his own stamp. That’s hard to do in any genre, especially these days. Songs like “Supreme” and its follow-up “The Storm” are prime examples of this. Basik solidifies his musical voice on this record, and it’s one of the most engaging and thoroughly captivating albums I’ve heard in a long time. There are elements of the classic boom bap hip hop sound, but he approaches lyricism with a more modern twist so it all feels very fresh.

If you’re looking for robust, smart, brilliantly-produced local music, look no further. 7 is a statement, and an indelible one at that.

For more on Basik Lee, visit basiklee.bandcamp.com

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Sean Kelly

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