A Closer Look at RadioFlag’s Best Artist Winner, Nathan Roberts & the New Birds

Meet Nathan Roberts and the New Birds; the Best Artist winner for RadioFlag’s RadioStar Awards 2014 Spring edition. The DJ who nominated them was Kayla Marie Williams, a radio personality from WXUT, in Toledo. Williams hosts a live freeform radio show that plays “music across genres (indie, alternative, electronic, soul, local, shoegaze, punk, hiphop) and time (new & vintage)”.  She won the award for Best Music Show – Fall 2013 season of RadioFlag’s RadioStar Awards. Listeners can tune in to her live show, called ‘Radio Alchemy’ every Friday Night from 10pm – Midnight (EST). Listeners tuning in via RadioFlag can follow along with her live “flagging”, connecting with her in real time,  make requests, share links,  purchase songs from her playlist which she posts after the show, and basically have a “Connective Listening” experience. She continues to promote local bands turning the RadioFlag community on to up and coming sounds like ‘Nathan Roberts and the New Birds’.

Nathan Roberts and the New Birds are a 3 piece group coming out of Toledo, Ohio.  Their overall style seems more remote and non local, compared to the plentitude of gritty heavy souled indie talent that rock this part of the heartland’s music scene. Their sound is clean and lustrous with a consoling melodic classic rock undercurrent, giving them an air of distinction, depth, and refinement; which is confidently accentuated by perfectly timed out thrusts of edgy rock ’n’ roll vigilance. Stylistically they describe themselves as ”an indie rock outfit with an eclectic and full-bodied American rock sound.”  

Although Nathan Roberts originally did his songwriting unaccompanied, he made his move to include the ‘New Birds’ in 2012, after crafting music independently for a year. This current trio of musical mates, includes Nathan Roberts on lead vocals and guitar,  Joel Trzcinski on drums and Daniel Trzcinski on keyboard and guitar. The ‘New Birds’ happen to be brothers, which lends to the cool factor in some peoples’ eyes, based most likely on an ideal. It makes sense when people get idealistic or sentimental about siblings making musical magic together, after all the thoughts are, they probably hung out with each other in childhood,  know each other super well, and generally  ”bro out” together.  Seems like a paragon set up for creativity to thrive. When bros share the gift of a musical ear, ( like some of these famous siblings acts , you may or may not be thinking of)  dreams can seem even more attainable, as long as sibling skirmishes don’t get the better. Too bad for Oasis huh?

In the case of Nathan Robert and the New Birds, it feels like three is the number for balance, and from balance comes harmony.  After all, tripods and things of that nature, are perfectly designed to create a firm foundation to support many creative endeavors. As ears can attest, this triangle of songsters have created a nice nesting ground for hatching out some fervently soulful rock ‘n’ roll tunefulness. Nathan Roberts and the New Birds have kept on together like birds of a feather, going on three years now, and as every band start up comes to realize, keeping it together is an art in and of itself.

SOME BAND HISTORY 

Starting out in 2011 Nathan Roberts was flying solo as an independent singer and songwriter for the first year. During that course in time, he released his first solo album and called it “Beautiful Universe”, creating some inspiring  heart opening tracks that speak to our human condition. The Beautiful Universe album lends a nourishing vibe without the heaviness;  a musical mist of uplifting lyricism and mirthful melody, that feels as right as rain. A collection of contemplation and sincerity without the sappiness;  simple spoken truths with a realness that is so easily forgotten, and often readily denied. It feels like truly authentic sounding music, serving as a fresh cool breeze of sound current, blowing tenderly over a world of wandered, marred, and charred ears;  a sonic salve that reunites hearers that sweet spots of un-spun time dwell in the ” forever young ” parts of us. The “untitled” track on this album gets us aligned with messages like; we are the ‘fillers of our own titles’, acceptance is a key to love,  and just let go and know that it’ll all be okay. Tracks like “Beautiful Universe” remind us to see ourselves in everything, never give up, and discover the uni-verse (single verse) that is our own soul’s song. Another track called “Forever with You” is just so lovely and pure; sounds like a message about embracing the eternal moments within a spirit of unbounded innocence. Enjoy a listen:

 


After a year of doing a solo song making flight, it was time to bring some extra wings aboard. At that point,  Joel and Daniel joined this one man flock, and hence forth became Nathan Roberts and the New Birds. Since 2012 the band has been soaring through clouds of sound together, releasing their debut album in November of 2013. Their 10 track debut album is a successful merging of soul stirring lyrics and harmonious melodies as before, with additional highlights of keen sharp edgy rock ‘n’ roll veracity. Songs like “in stereo” has put out an almost hypnotically psychedelic groove with its chilled out repetitive pulse and mind shifting lyrics,  before it veers ears into a deeper “rocking out” state, as the sharp edgier parts get played up.  The musical compilation of this first song of the album, may be the newest sound method to clean up your state of mind, and wipe the slate clean so to speak, giving you the grips to rock on and on!  Just check out the rock ‘n’ roll trance this song induced in a hearer.

This album effects your inner vibe the longer you listen, with a conquering positivity that becomes that first thing your humming when you wake up in the morning. And it’s no wonder, with songs like “Step into the Light”,  that are filled to the brim with consciousness shifting questions, insights, and self redeeming outpours of soul. The musical epiphanies keep unfolding in tracks like “Walk On”; about keeping on, keeping up, and keeping calm in the eye of life’s many storms. On a more lush and physical level there is the ultimate break up /make up ballad, “Please Don’t”, with vocals that make being vulnerable cool; accented by a permeation of pensive guitar elevations, amid sensuously clamoring drum cymbals. Songs like “Dead on Arrival” bring on an upbeat kick backed 70′s vibe, with a seamlessly executed “Chicago-esque” layered brass sound, with honest lyrics about the frustration of communication, and limitations of words to express true feelings.   One could go on and on, but just know every single song on this album is worth spending time with. Listen on :

After listening for a while, the musical influencers the band mentions seem fairly easy to pick up on.  The most recognizable were the Beatles (especially in tracks like “Heaven Knows”) , Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Ryan Adams, Oasis, Neil Young, John Lennon, George Harrison, (“Step into the Light” especially)  Fleetwood Mac and Jack White.  The credible classic rock band Bread, with their low key 70′s soft rock vibe, is something Nathan and the New Birds seem tuned into on some level; coming through especially in Bread’s song “Guitar Man”.  Of course, the Jack White’s influence peaks in with the Americana classic he covered called,  “Wayfaring Stranger”. Listen to it done up wonderfully by Nathan Roberts.

These three bandmates deserve recognition for bringing forth a very balanced and polished  album with their first release (in collaboration with Rewire media); comprised of 100% original compilations. Although the quantity may be an amuse geule like tease on time, the quality makes up for it, with a perfectionistic flavor and presentation that makes these tidbits of sound something to sit with and savor.  The band seems satisfied with not going against the grain, or taking giant provocative leaps into new experiments in music making at this point. Instead they seem to have opted for going in the direction of meticulously reflecting on the music and music creators that have become legendary, and then adding onto that greatness with their own soulful sound signature.

So in a final contemplation, I regress back to the whole balance thing, and growing in harmony as a result. Harmony begets flow right? So then, once in the flow all directions seem to become more accessible it’s thought. It feels like Nathan and the New Birds are migrating along this course, flowing in and between water and air, because of their soulfulness (water), and connected communication (air). All things besides, with a first album that is phenomenally well done, we can only anticipate to hear more of their signature soulful rock ‘n’ roll sounds, in the seasons to come.

Speaking of seasons,  here’s a “way to early” Christmas song, by one of Nathan Roberts’ earlier solo works. The rule is it can’t be listened to until after Thanksgiving please! That would just be obnoxious, okay. ;)

RadioFlag is currently accepting nominations for the Fall Season RadioStar Awards, so keep on nominating radio hosts and local artists, to to get spotlighted on a global stage. The world is waiting to listen, so get heard the ‘Connective Listening’ way!

 

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