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  The Sun Show  
  Two Sheds  
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Nillah are a long-standing Atlanta band who have just released their third CD, The Sun Show, on Two Sheds Records. Led by guitarist/vocalist Elisabeth Eickhoff, Nillah are one of those bands who I've come across previously, but because they don't play out too often, they hadn't really made it onto my musical radar.

On first listen, The Sun Show seems nice enough, but it's not exactly the type of music which I really enjoy. For instance, Taken by Surprise comes across on record as blistering loud, with dueling guitars, fairly basic drumming, and Eickhoff's somewhat breathy vocals way up front in the mix. Likewise, Bed & Breakfast has a nice jangle-pop sound, but again the guitar work seems exceedingly loud, especially in contrast to the light vocals. This discontinuity works against Nillah's music, mainly because it seems that the vocals are always in danger of being overwhelmed by the relative strength and power of the instruments.

Yet, on subsequent listens, I began to hear something both interesting and fun on The Sun Show. For instance, I realized that the album's primary strengths are the more straight up rock numbers. As an example, Fire Sanctuary, the first song on the album, begins with hard dueling guitars that could have off of been something by late-80s The Cult. Here, Eickhoff's vocals have power that holds it own against the music in a way that's vaguely reminiscent of Atlanta band Hot Young Priest. Likewise, title track The Sun Show features very prominent basswork and some semi-yelled vocals that give the song a nice head-bouncing feel. Finally, Turn Back the Clock is probably the best song on the album, at least in my opinion. Like the others, it's a fast-paced, rocking number, and like The Sun Show, it features a semi-yelled chorus which demonstrates the power of Eickhoff's voice. Furthermore, the way the chorus is driven by the guitars seems almost anthemic and very Indie in tone (which is a compliment coming from me). It's actually a great song and made me re-think my overall position on the album.

Still other songs almost veer off into dream-pop territory, and sound quite interesting in and of themselves. For instance, Church has a martial-sounding drum part that contrasts with a bouncy backing bass line. With its unexpected chord progression, effected guitars and slower vocals, it is at times a nice little dream pop-esque song, wherein Eickhoff's semi-breathy vocals sound completely organic. Likewise, although Leave It Behind seems a bit too fast at times, the alternating guitars with their layers upon layers of sound blend nicely with the rest of the instrumentation to produce a musical whole, where nothing calls attention to itself in the mix. It's another very nice song, and I can see why some critics have compared Nillah to Sixpence None The Richer.

All in all, I think I prematurely categorized of The Sun Show as merely a nice enough record. Listening to it again and again, I have started to appreciate the relative complexity of the layers of instrumentation in their songs. Furthermore, Eickhoff's vocals have grown on me, so that they seem like a natural outgrowth of the songs and the songwriting. Either way, this album does Nillah justice and shows that they have become a mature band with much to offer even a casual listener.

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