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The best kept secret in music


Envie, first off, is not emo singer/songwriter crap. It is also not bitchy grrl rock. And lastly, it's not instrumental twee pop. Envie, the self-titled debut CD from pianist/harpist/vocalist Renee Nelson and lyricist Michael Overstreet, is, however, strange enough to be engaging and beautiful enough to be memorable. Current and former members of the band have performed with such groups as The Living Jarboe and Mastodon and have played gigs with Devendra Banhart and The Angles of Light. This might account for the peculiar dynamics between the uplifting dulcet harmonies and the ominous lyrics. And it's this juxtaposition of light and dark elements that pervade the CD, making it eerie and blithe at the same time without either sound being watered down or lost. Envie successfully mixes upbeat art-rock with layered, spacey orchestral arrangements and dreamy vocals. Drawing on an assortment of instruments, including harp, Rhodes, lap steel, foundation poles, drums, bass, piano, keys, guitar, cello and violin, Envie most closely sounds like chamber-goth rock, which isn't really a genre but fits nicely. Renee Nelson is like some sweet-voiced cherub lulling a person into a false sense of security, right until the cloud is pulled out from underneath and they plummet into her nightmarish reality, compliments of Overstreet's compelling words. Stylistically, Overstreet could've written songs for any number of goth bands, but somehow his lyrics seem more truly pained and less pretentious. "Home Free," "Spare Change" and "Something Like the Sun" may not be the most joyous songs on Envie, but they are certainly the most passionate and most poignant. As Nelson sings, "How can you ignore me / When you've got me by the throat / Doubled over and lashed," you know she has more on her mind than a game of Shoots and Ladders. Envie is probably for fans of either Kate Bush, chamber music or Dead Can Dance, only less synth-inspired. The only complaint about the CD is that it's only nine tracks long, and that's including the hidden bonus song. - Southeastern Performer - Charley Lee

Envie is an evocative group like no other in the Atlanta area. Their self-titled debut disc ably reveals how the band has solidified and energized its sound in the past couple of years. Intricate and pretty art-rock with a punchy pop undercurrent, the CD will likely appeal to the Kate Bush fan in your family. Jarboe, who employs Nelson for many of her live and recorded projects, returns the favor, appearing on guest vocals for one song here.

(Jeff Clark) - Stomp and Stammer

Envie (pronounced "NV") is fronted by singer/composer/pianist/harpist Renee Nelson, who also credits her lyricist, Michael Overstreet, as a group member and who is backed by a rock band consisting of guitarist Chris Hoke, bassist Jared Welsh, and drummer Kevin Wallace on this self-titled and self-released debut album. Nelson betrays a classical education as soon as she sits down at the keyboard, but she uses it to create attractive pop/rock and mainstream hard rock treatments of her melodic tunes; the harp is employed as if it were a loud acoustic guitar, and creates an unusual sonic touch. Overstreet's lyrics take a backseat and are used largely for their sounds in Nelson's floating soprano. She leans a bit closer to Amy Lee of Evanescence than to Tori Amos, but actually falls somewhere in between. As indie bands go, Envie is surprisingly accessible, which makes the possibility of a pickup by a larger label seem likely. - All Music Guide

the Plastic Ashtray

Envie are a US two piece based in Atlanta. The band consists of Singer/Harpist Renee Nelson and lyricist Michael Overstreet, the lp is fleshed out with help from friends on guitar, piano, drums and bass. Opening track ‘Passage’ shows off some string bending indie rock with some really heavy drumming and a really cool Albini style bass sound. The harp adds a strange edge to the sound and Nelson’s vocals are passionate enough to carry off the songs. She reminds me a little of Alanis Morrissette only not so over the top and more subtle (PS I hate Morrissette, but like Envie!).

‘Still Room’ is in contrast another side to their music. Recalling Ben Folds with their breezy piano work and building melodies with shades of Sonic Youth’s Murray Street era work. The loose jazzy drumming and gentle mature to the songs make this a really catchy song.

‘Home Free!’ recalls a stripped down Radiohead with it’s gentle harp work and drumming. Nelson’s voice suitably sweet and showing a real prowess that will make this band stand out. Envie have some really indie rock ideas going on in a more classical kind of sense. It’s hard to explain as you feel like you are listening to a band that could be explosive but keep everything tight and mostly gentle. The production gives this a raw appeal; you sometimes imagine you are in the room with the band.

‘My Amelia’ makes use of violin and some clever guitar pickings alongside accompanying pianos to create great pop. Reminiscant of Kate Bush, Nelson again takes lead with some sassy vocals. ‘Spare Change’ uses some phaser style effects on the drums and swirls around enough to create an interesting introduction until the song takes pace. There is enough drama and melancholic overtones during Envie’s lp to really hook the listener, which is important. Nelson’s harp work is an interesting and unique instrument to use and creates some desirable effects.

Envie are soaked in melody and drama. A very impressive record and one which uses delicate and intricate musicianship to create a mesmerising album.

Pete Stanley - the Plastic Ashtray

Live review of ENVIE show w/ Hope for agoldensummer

This promising night of local music kicked off with Envie, a band whose sound has grown and changed dramatically over the last year. In its previous incarnations, Envie has been a much mellower, ethereal group which built its sound primarily around cello, harp, and piano. Now however, the group has added a more rock-oriented guitar player (3d5spd’s Chris Hoke) and has greatly picked-up the tempo of many of their songs. While Renée Nelson’s beautiful and soaring vocals still steer the songs, the guitar, bass, and full live percussion now take on a more dominant role than they did in the past. Envie’s sound has evolved from its calm and subdued beginnings into a full, operatic style of rock that is original and quite gripping; even with the more conventional instruments coming out into the forefront, the band has nevertheless carved out a very unique niche.
(C. Bargamian)
- Southeastern Performer

And there are those who would decry the entirety of Atlanta's scene. While it's easy to toss the musicians of that town into the fame-hungry and forgettable pot, there is redemption among those scrambling for mainstream rock notoriety. The Woggles, for instance, are a terrific garage rock group. Ocelot performs a calculated, emotional instrumental post-rock. And the usually-a-trio Envie takes the whole rock-meets-classical-meets-goth thing and is able to avoid the clichés of the genre (the songs, despite their dark-chamber feel, for instance, are far better than the middle-school-tortured-poet lyrics that typically mark the genre).

Renée Nelson (American Dream, Aphelion) plays harp and piano, Deisha Oliver (Osaka, American Dream) plays cello and Kevin Wallace (Teen Wheat, Christine Keeler Affair) handles the percussion duties. Michael Overstreet writes the lyrics, sung by Nelson. The group deftly hops from lamentful dirge to high-tempo romp, welding the sounds of their instruments into an intoxicating mix, then splitting off into solos - and how often can you catch a harp solo at the Caledonia?
(Chris Hassiotis)
- Chris Hassiotis - Athens, GA

... ENVIE, the evening's headliner, featured yet another collaborative twosome, the music of multi-instrumentalist Renée Nelson paired with non-performing member Michael Overstreet's words. Live, Nelson's band is an ever-changing cast of friends and associates from some of Atlanta's finest underground bands...Nelson and company offered a sonic chamber of subversive yet catchy melodies, steeped in suites of layered sensuality. As in many of her other projects, Nelson gracefully alternated between keyboard and harp. "Home Free" featured all the string players in a tension-building march-time rocker -- bows sawed mightily as Oliver provocatively beat the strings of her cello into submission.

Again ignoring Eyedrum's no cover-song policy, ENVIE's wonderfully soaring reading of R.E.M.'s "Feeling Gravity's Pull" suitably capped the event. When Nelson sang, "You can't do this; I said 'I can too,'" it was like she was speaking for Atlanta's entire DIY underground scene. Thanks to art and music incubators such as Eyedrum, it seems even "Gravity" can be defied.
(Lee Smith)
- Creative Loafing - Atlanta

Seeing Envie live is a treat, because Renee is precision controlled fury. Sort of like a Honda engine in the VTEC range - an exhilarating sense of power, tightly controlled to awesome effect.
A highlight of this show was the crack rhythm section. Kevin Wallace, who alert Prizzo Skeezy readers may remember from such bands as The Sudden Rays and Ruvolo, was holding it down with his usual skill on the drums. Susannah Barnes, who recurring Propeller Skies readers will recall from such excellent bands as The Black Kites and American Dream, was kicking ass on bass.

Alert readers, if there are any left after all these mind numbing words, will note that Envie’s non-performing member, Michael Overstreet, has been left out of this ridiculously fucking long review, so far. I suspect Michael writes lyrics, but I am too lazy to check the liner notes and find out for sure. Spare Change is my all time favorite Envie song, because of the premium lyrics. If Michael happens to also write things other than songs, I would appreciate more info via the comments section.
- Propeller Skies (propellerskies.com)

Envie are one of my favorite local bands, and not just because they have interesting instrumentation (two keyboards, bass, guitar, harp, and drums), but also because they manage to make music that is catchy and epic at the same time. Their songs have a lot of depth to them, probably because of the complex instrumentation as well as because of the high level of musicianship. Let me put it this way -- no one bothers to drag a harp out in public with them unless they know what they are doing. Those things are heavy and expensive...

This was the first Envie show in months. The band has been taking some time off to work (what, they don't make enough money playing in dives across town?) and do some recording. The recording has me very excited, as their songs sound wonderful and need to be preserved before the band gets totally sick of them.


Overall, Envie played a fun energetic set. The small crowd at Eyedrum really seemed to enjoy them. Their set has been refined and perfected, and it shows. However, just to keep it interesting for the band, Envie played a few new tunes tonight, ending with a new piece that doesn't even have vocals yet, but which really rocks in a way that reminds me of The Sea & Cake combined with Joe Jackson style keyboards. Nice. - EvilSponge.org

Fronted by Renée Nelson (the Living Jarboe Band), the group crafts a sound that's too heavenly to be called gothic and too disciplined to be called rock.

(Chad Radford) - Creative Loafing - Atlanta - Chad Radford


Envie's debut record was released by Stickfigure Records in early 2007 (http://stickfiguredistro.com). Envie joined the Atlanta-based ISP-Music collective in 2007 (http://industrialstrengthpromo.com/).

During a summer radio campaign in conjunction with Team Clermont, Envie charted in seven cities and got airplay on at least 64 stations. Envie is also available on Pandora, iTunes and other digital music retailers. Envie can be heard on a number of online music zines such as Soupy Gato (http://www.podcastalley.com/podcast_details.php?pod_id=21268


Feeling a bit camera shy


Atlanta’s Envie exists primarily as the creative vehicle for composer/harpist/singer Renee Nelson and lyricist Michael Overstreet. After several years of defining and refining their musical vision and experimenting with various line-ups, they’ve arrived at the perfect personal chemistry and a powerful unmistakable sound all their own as evidenced on their eponymous debut album Envie.

Recorded at Long Division Studios with Blake Long producing, Envie is filled with feverish pop-rock. Building upon the restrained beauty of Renee’s harp and piano, guitarist Chris Hoke (3d5spd, Sudden Rays), drummer Kevin Wallace (Dropsonic, Farmer John) and Jared Welsh (Jupiter Watts) on bass add layer upon layer of frantic, high-energy playing and a diverse range of stylistic influences. Envie consciously approaches its music and lyrics with the purpose of being as creative and original as possible, eschewing the expected for the unusual and unpredictable.

Praising live performances and the album as a work-in-progress, long-running Southern music magazine Stomp & Stammer characterized Envie’s music as “Intricate and pretty art-rock with a punchy pop undercurrent.” Athens, GA’s Flagpole Magazine described it “Music with a mind of its own.”

Renee started playing at age four, gifted with perfect pitch. As a child she had the inspiring opportunity of performing with Ray Charles as a member of long-standing children’s chorus the Atlanta Young Singers introducing New Coke to the world. As she grew up, Renee found herself being tapped to lend her musical talents to numerous recording sessions by local musicians in Atlanta-Athens area. Eventually Renee began to feel unfulfilled in her numerous supporting roles in bands and finally, in the middle of 10,000 people in a field with Radiohead onstage, Michael convinced her that she could strike out on her own and Envie was born. After several years of frequent personnel changes the current incarnation of Envie gelled in 2004 and started creating and crafting the material and arrangements that are captured so vividly on Envie.
After self-releasing the disc in late 2006, Envie was quickly picked up by Stickfigure Records who re-issued Envie in early 2007. Shortly afterwards, Envie was asked to join the Atlanta-based music collective Industrial Strength Promotions (ISP).