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Sound Check

Feb 16, 2012
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By Chad Taylor
soundcheck@dmcityview.com

Nillson Berndt

Self Titled

Independent

Musical tastes in general are subjective, but perhaps none more so than instrumentals. Rather than using lyrics to TELL someone a story you’re relying on the instrumentation to give the IMPRESSION of a story and hoping that your audience interprets that story the way you intended. It’s a bit like conversing in a foreign language phonetically and never knowing which bits are the swear words. For that reason, I’m not completely convinced that instrumental albums are good for anything other than movie soundtracks or as something for people to get high to. If either of those fit your needs, Des Moines native Nilsson Berndt’s self-titled effort might just be worth your time. The completely analog recording has an unadulterated, full sound that’ll be an audiophile’s wet dream. Ethereal, poppy and flush with jazz and Asian undertones, Berndt’s three-year labor of love is intriguing, if not completely arresting. CV

Billy and the Black Spot Under an Ugly Moon

Self Titled

Independent

Seriously, you guys. If any of you are sitting around thinking, “I have this giant bag of weed, but nothing to listen to while I ‘dispose’ of it,” this week is for you. If you’re into a trippy, experimental sound, see above. If you’re more of a mellow stoner, looking for something laid back and easy to follow, may I humbly suggest Billy and the Unwieldy Band Name. I’m not going to say that anything here is particularly refreshing or unique, or that the band is taking Americana in any kind of exciting new direction. But what I WILL say is that they’ve decided on their direction, settled on a sound, and absolutely crushed it. If your album doesn’t tell a story, then the goal should be “do one thing and do it really well.” Billy, et al does precisely that. CV

Want your new CD reviewed? Email us a link at soundcheck@dmcityview.com or mail a physical copy to: Cityview, 414 61st Street, Des Moines, IA 50312.



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