We have been planning to make this post for a while now, but due to the outbreak of corona virus and subsequent cancellations of tours and concerts, we thought that independent artists need immediate exposure to help them. So over the next couple of days, we will be shining some light on artists that are operating far away from the mainstream, yet their music is so wonderful, so uplifting that it is a crying shame they do not get the recognition they truly deserve.
Normally all you have to do to discover a new artist, is to simply just walk into a pub or a dive bar. You will grab something to drink and suddenly the music coming from the stage will take you to a new exciting place. You will forget about the world, your troubles and after an hour you will be on your way home, happy with a new album in hand and maybe a new tee as well. In current circumstances, it is sadly not possible – but you can still discover new music, and you can do it online.
So let us take you for a short journey to meet one of the nicest and most talented independent artists we have met in recent months. The gentleman’s name is Sammy Zalta, and he is usually seen shredding his guitar mercilessly on stage with New York based band Bambara. He is also an accomplished artist in his own right with three digitally released albums to his name.
Hidden under the alias of Nola Gras on Bandcamp, Mr Zalta has been recording solo material since early 2014. After a few experimental, self released projects that were distributed privately, Nola Gras’s first proper EP “Living In Darkness (Under the Covers)” was released in January 2015 and sadly is no longer available for streaming but you can read a phenomenal review of it right here:
Multi instrumentalist, balancing on the edges of several genres (alternative folk, psychedelic pop, shoegaze electronica, garage, punk and of course gothic revival), Sammy is not easy to squeeze into one musical box. But this is what we absolutely love about him. He is bold and daring, taking chances where other artists do not. You may not hear Nola Gras on the radio, but once you listen to his music, there is an entire musical landscape to discover. From short noise-inspired sketches of a song, to heart breaking renditions of Tim Buckley’s classics.
On 20th of March, for the next 24 hours, Bandcamp will remove any fees, to give the artists 100% of earnings from their music. If you’d like to support Sammy, please take a look what’s available to purchase.
Full debut album by Nola Gras released in March 2015. It contains 12 songs, 10 original ones and two covers: very psychedelic version of Tim Buckley’s “Phantasmagoria In Two” and equally trippy, Jesus and Mary Chain flavoured “For You” by Big Star. “Paradiso Terrenal” translates into “Earthly Paradise” and it’s a very fitting title. If you love lo-fi psychedelia with a hint of western gothic, you will be in heaven listening to the tunes. Our favourite (except for the “Phantasmagoria”) is the title track that sounds like a cross between Elliot Smith and The Deep Blue Something. It is also the last song on the record and surprisingly very radio-friendly. Well maybe in a shortened version as it stands at nearly 9 minutes! The album was released in physical form on a cassette, but only in 40 copies and they are now all now sold out.
You can listen and purchase the album at:
“O” by Like St. Joan
Released under a moniker of Like St. Joan, “O” saw the light of the day on June 5, 2017. The middle child of Sammy Zalta, is like a black sheep of the family – resembling no relative, including distant cousins twice removed. “O” is actually a very interesting entity – one look at the credits and we can see entire Bambara as a back up band plus Mike Hentz (Secret Flowers) and Thomas MacDonald (Plate of Shrimp). And the Bambara’s dark, unpredictable spirit is clearly visible in every track. It starts with “Her Patron Scum” aggressive and almost inhuman garage anthem of 6 minutes, quickly to merge with acid house inspired “Memoirs Of A Man Of Pleasure”. Title track “O” is a gothic revival masterpiece with chilling guitars and waltz-like rhythm. There are 7 compositions on the album and you cannot really call them songs – they are long, multi-level, broken into massive segments and frankly absolutely brilliant. If we were to write a short description for it, it would be Bambara meets King Crimson and recording with Trent Reznor locked up in a basement somewhere down in Georgia, no jokes about it. Almost radio friendly and punkish “Safe Spaces” could serve as the leading single, at 5:30 minutes, it is the shortest song on the album minus the instrumental “Quick…”. “Visions of You” take the listener back to the dangerous territory with a marching beat and poetic lyrics and “Egyptian Water Color” feels almost like a cut off from “Swarm” by Bambara.
In short – we cannot believe we missed it when it was first released! Maybe one day, “O” will be re-released on vinyl. One can wish…
You can listen and purchase the album at: https://nolagras.bandcamp.com/album/o
“It All Ends the Same”
“It All Ends the Same” is the latest album released by Nola Grass on March 25th 2019. It consists of 8 tracks written by the band (all originals) and was mixed/produced by Brooklyn based recording maverick, Ben Jones (AKA Constant Smiles). The album was promoted by a Beatlesque single “Ode To Ersa” and it came with a beautiful video you can see below:
“It All Ends the Same” is much different from “Paradiso Terrenal” and “O”. It is still a very guitar driven, psychedelic in nature but also toned down, melancholic in parts. Our favourite songs are “The Wings On My Shoulder” and nearly romantic “In the Dark”. Please pay closer attention to experimental, bit jazzy/western instrumental track “One Bright Pearl” and cinematic “Just Don’t, Please”.
You can listen and purchase the album at:
Let’s not forget about the Bambara guys as well. Please support them as well through their BandCamp account or through their gift shop on their record label website:
Thank you and hopefully, when the dust settles, we will be standing in the front row at the nearest Bambara gig somewhere in the Northern Quarter handbanging like it’s 1989. And after the show, who’s ready for some pinball and pizza at the Crazy Pedro’s?
You all? Good, it’s gonna be a hell of an after party.
see you soon,