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N. Shineywater & R. Hughes

• Brightblack Morning Light

Often confused with (and born of) the hippie-dom of yore, the scene in Humboldt County, California, could be described as exotic to most of the conscious world. Communal practicalities, and observances, abound on the outskirts of towns like Arcata, Eureka, Trinidad, and the like. Brightblack Morning Light exists in this place and time, and the creativity that is expressed reflects the spirituality of that community. With hyperlinks to Earthfirst!, Friends of the Eel, Save Leonard Peltier, among other worthy social causes, on their website (www.thebrighblackmorninglight.com) it is easy to peek into the world view of Brightblack's founders Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes. No matter what your political allegiance, the band's commitment to a homegrown, eclectic sound is refreshing, original, and worth a listen.

The opener to their self-titled album, "Everybody Daylight," sets the album's mood, as Hughes' antique-sounding Rhodes slowly weaves the album's way--with barely enough spoken word to interrupt your trance. This flows nicely into the next several songs, all spiced with even amounts of school bells, hand claps, tribal drum beats and a shaker. The accompaniment of Shineywater's swampy, slowed-down guitar, evokes this mélange of southern roots and far east spirituality. Breathy and ethereal goes the harmonizing of the pair--and quickly you realize, this is what Beck's Odelay would have sounded like if he was having more fun (and, perhaps, living in Humboldt, not L.A.).

Nabob & Rabob

Halfway through the album, the music turns lazy--as if set among the sparse clouds and breaking sun of a scorching, late July day. Whereas "Star Blanket River Child" is teasing and soulful (Beasties'-style electro-drum session and spankin' wah-wah), the next song, "All We Have Broken Shines," displays passion and sensitivity...then saunters into the breathtaking composition "A River Could Be Loved," whose piano begat harmony is soothing like wild hot springs.

As far as comparisons, I am short...but, I have grouped them amongst some other favorite bands as diverse as Talkdemonic, the White Stripes and, ahem, Peaches and Herb. A man and woman uniting the sexes--sonically. There exists a moment when Nathan and Rachael's voice achieve this unison; the building hum of the train to salvation is turning the bend. This is a fantasy world--with Tibetan bells, hand claps, humming, and plenty of silence for thought--that should be embraced.

I look forward to that hot summer day.

•Robert Karmin

nathan + rachel

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thebrightblackmorninglight.com     matadorrecords.com  

visit their myspace     the interview in Arthur magazine

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