Smoldering Ashes
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Smoldering Ashes


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"Mick Mercer Reviews An Oasis Where Nothing Explodes"

Lippy Water International

These, you will be relived to know, are ‘Arbitrary Songs in the Key of a Lambent Gallimaufry’ and we all know there simply aren’t enough of those around. This quite befits a band whose quixotic blend of indie and post-punk can include ska every bit as easily as it reveals the shameless activities of members when younger. Music and words mingle, then tingle. The sleeve is cute, for fans of cute sleeves, with individual photos attached into small old fashioned photo album corner hinges.

‘Nicer Version Of You’ is as weird as any of their warped poppy songs, the vocals almost dropping away to the floor as slinky, tricksy notions flick out from the main shape of the song, a jaunty sub-ska motif there behind the dreamy vocals. ‘To My Brother, The Artist’ could almost be early Blondie trapped inside a cupboard, restful guitar and lightly clomping drums assisting the high, wavering vocals which hint at mischief. ‘A Little Summer Schisto’ is murkier but playful 60’s pop, and you can imagine a Monkees-style sequence of film, of them all jerky, fast-forwarded as they caper down the street. They list some disturbing illnesses as the winsome character of the song is occasionally disrupted by a weird, gloomier segment. Fans of Flaming Lips would get this, completely.

‘Moon Stone’ threatens to be Sixties-infused shoegazey rock, but the guitar falls back obligingly, allowing the air to clear, and so fans of the Eves would get this, and that’s a broad range of comparisons we have got going here, because they’re a strange band. It seems to be light and drifty but actually the overall scope still keeps a watchful eye over you expectations, then moves in to tilt you when you least expect it. What you suspect is a soothing balm will often turn out to be infected, intriguingly. Catchy, literally.

‘Natural Order’ plunges down low and crawls along with a debonair theatrical air and nagging guitar twinges, while ‘Porters Of Problems’ spins a higher, more delicate web.
‘Arbitrary’ manages both, drooping musically but with aerated singing, before a woozy ‘Spies At Leisure’ pulls you into a tidy musical swamp. Then they hit with a ridiculously engaging tale about Mary Elizabeth Young’s first crush, with astronaut Alan Shepherd. It seems that at kindergarten the pair ‘touched tongues’ whenever the teacher left the room. This comes with a charming spoken introduction, in which she recalls her mother rang her to remind of this when he made his famous trip. “I once was intimate with…a man on the moon.” An antique organ swells, if you’ll excuse the imagery, and the faltering delivery stumbles along, growing increasingly strange and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t forget this once you’ve heard it. You’ll even find yourself singing along in an imbecilic manner. Well, someone I know did.

A wonderfully weird band. Weirdly wonderful. - Mick Mercer

"Lunar Hypnosis 9 of 10 !!"

Smoldering Ashes - Nervous Constellations
Trakwerx Records - 2008
1. Barker
2. A Comedy of Arrows
3. Shenfinity
4. Sea-Blue
5. 1000 Birds Scatter
6. Believe it, Brother
7. Duct Tape + Superhero Love
8. The City Electric
9. Temporary Archives
10. Kite

‘Nervous Constellations’ is the debut album of Smoldering Ashes, which includes members of label mates 17 Pygmies and former members of judyjudyjudy.

Smoldering Ashes can’t really be defined by one genre. This album mashes together (and I use that in a good way) moments of folk music, indie rock, softer melodic pop, dark ambiance and noise. The voice of Veronica Ashe is fantastic, calming without sounding like she’s trying too hard, and melodic enough to smooth the highly varied sounds that play themselves out behind it. Now, the hard part: How to describe those sounds? Quirky space folk pop? Experimental indie atmospheric rock? Perhaps the best description is in the band’s bio page: ‘a kitchen sink concoction of melodic cacophony.’ Whatever you want to call it, the music is fantastic. No song sounds the same (with the exception of the album opener and closer, in which this is done intentionally). ‘A Comedy of Arrows’ is calming, melodic pop. ‘Sea-Blue’ has a waltzing, meandering feel to it. ‘Believe it, Brother’ is a fast paced, head-bobbing indie rock song. ‘The City Electric’ is a hodge-podge of noises and interesting melodies.

These differences are the beauty of this album. Every song is unique; its own story inside the book. This is the kind of album I wish would just go on forever, each song unique yet following similar lines, and while the 32 minutes of this album are fantastic, hopefully this is just a taste of things to come from this band. Recommended for fans of great music from all different styles.

November 1, 2008
By Ormr
9 of 10


"Nervous Constellations review from Belgium"

I am submitted to a lot of newsletters informing me of the latest releases everywhere. A group presentation that appeared as such in my mailbox was from the Smoldering Ashes, presenting their release with a rather psychedelic cover. To my surprise (in a sort of listing I didn’t expect to find much interesting) their sound attracted me rather quickly, and also their label seems to be interesting (of which the label band 17 Pygmies is reviewed here as well, a band in which Jeff Brenneman & Dirk Doucette are currently also members of, so you can say it is all a family). Their album was released in a hand stitched tissue cover protected in plastic with a printed sticker on it, and with a separate included sheet for the lyrics printed small in handwriting.

Their sound is that of a saddened psych-folk-pop band with a certain light gothic flavour through the use of just some late 80s keyboards or background keyboards (with the sounds of bells and such) with cello and such. The songs can have a certain dark sadness, and still also similarly a light sweetness over it by the singing and soft or sparse percussion and rather dreamy arrangements. Elsewhere, and perhaps even most often, the sweetness takes over (the lead voice makes these qualities strong, with its velvet character), and the band swings (occasionally partly chamber-music like) in a slow humming rhythm with it, or confirms a dreamy atmosphere, or something in between. Just when needed they rock, with a charming staying home-feeling psych touch. Attractive and warm music.
-Gerald Van Waes - Psyche Van Het Folk

"CD Review: Smoldering Ashes - Nervous Constellations"

CD Review: Smoldering Ashes – Nervous Constellations
November 18, 2008

Much of this cd is the great album the Cure should have made between Faith and Seventeen Seconds but didn’t. Same watery guitar, same dark pensive sensibility, but none of the affectations. This collaboration between Oklahoma musicians Veronica Ashe and Troy Troutman and 17 Pygmies guitarist Jeff Brennman and drummer Dirk Doucette bridges the gap between 80s goth like This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance and nouveau psychedelia in the sense that its ambience is warm and draws you in. Ashe’s voice has an offhand beauty not unlike indie acoustic siren Linda Draper, and the two share a terse, imaginatively playful lyricism (do they know each other?).

After a brief, pensive opening track spiced with some raw harmonica playing, there’s the marvelous A Comedy of Arrows. Bouncing along on a deliciously watery chorus-box bassline straight out of the Laurence Tolhurst playbook, packed with big boomy chords, it’s catchy beyond words. The following two cuts, Shenfinity and Sea Blue are a study in contrasts, the first a beautiful 6/8 reflection, the second reverting to Robert Smith style new wave pop. The next track, 1000 Birds Scatter is slow and ambient with bluesy lead guitar and a striking tempo shift on the bridge. Other standout tracks on the cd include Duct Tape and Superhero Love, a dead ringer for legendary Australian art-rockers the Church with its lush, echoey layers of guitar; The City Electric, which gets totally psychedelic with a water-droplet effect (echoes of Country Joe and the Fish, maybe?); and the beautifully deliberate, tastefully orchestrated Temporary Archive. “I believe in chaos, a chance on a mystery bus tour,” Ashe announces matter-of-factly. The cd concludes with the brief, evocatively carnivalesque Kite:

The carnival’s come and it’s time to say

Goodbye, cruel world…

Hello to spring, take off the mask

Put on your face

So long, string

Time to see you you fly

An aptly optimistic note on which to close this marvelously captivating cd, best experienced on earphones late at night.

- Lucid Culture


This is my review:

Smoldering Ashes
- Nervous Constellations -

Here is the English Translation:

The encounter between Jeff Brenneman and Dirk Doucette
the 17 Pygmies/17th Pygmy and Veronica Ashe and
Tory Troutman (both ex Animated Mayfly
Festivals and Exapno Mapcase) comes this
collaboration, whose results are semplicementi

"Nervous Constellations" is a collection of
Tracks magical and mysterious, caressed by
magnetizing charm, flowing from the 'interstellar'

? just one listen to pick up the
intrinsic brightness album, and have access
of so much magnificence: the Smoldering Ashes, with
rare skill, are able to give birth superb songs
folk / pop psychedelic flick excellent melodic
arranged in a delightful, charming, in a
balance of sounds divine.

The ambiance is silky and dreamy, with some
picturesque areas of shade to complement the exciting
fresco twilight.

If you feel the lack of Kendra Smith - lost somewhere
where - or if you like Beach House, impossessatevi
of "Constellation" Nervous. Amazement guaranteed.


CD Rated: (5 / 5)

Massimiliano Dromme



"An Oasis Where Nothing Explodes" June 2, 2011" Lippy Waiter International Music

"Songs In The Key Of Mountain Birds Blue" November 17, 2009

"Nervous Constellations" September 30, 2008, Trakwerx



The Smoldering Ashes are legally unable to imitate any one person or band sound at this time. What they can and often do is assemble a collage of melodic fragments to churn behind a memorable vocal.

Jeff Brenneman & Dirk Doucette are alumni of White Glove Test and reside in southern California. They're currently also members of the swell Trakwerx band 17 Pygmies.

Tory and Veronica are former members of the beat combo judyjudyjudy. They are currently members of a bizarre recording band, Animated Mayfly Festival (AMF), and they reside in uptown Oklahoma City.

The Smoldering Ashes is not a "side project", however, but a band unto themselves.

Jeff and Tory met,at a phrenologist's convention and Jeff invited Tory and Veronica to attempt some cross-country music making with Dirk & the rest is cloth-bound, gilt-edged Smoldering Ashes history.

With their new cd “An Oasis Where Nothing Explodes” Smoldering Ashes zigged when you bet the house they’d zag. Blink and you’ll miss something. This acclaimed follow-up to 2009’s “Songs in the Key of Mountain Birds Blue” finds the gang in melodic, storytelling mode with more than a little atmosphere for backdrop. The familiar touchstones are there, but this is…different.

Tickling more ivories than before, and moseying down the twisted garden path they first paved in 2008, but often following rabbits into thickets, Smoldering Ashes continue their love affair with the quirk, and cast come hither glances at all the unusual suspects. All in all, it’s a 35+ minute gallimaufry of whodunits, whydoneits and Howcomeits with a dash of dada and doo-dah.

Hither are songs complimenting you on your new look (How DID They know?), A tribute to the law of Gravity and its love affair with fame, A song about A summer free for all thwarted by tropical disease, An Astronaut with a wry secret in his yard, A paean to the unpredictability of nature and music, The silly and serious burdens we all carry with dignity and aplomb, and a night club for spies. All that, plus “Arbitrary”, the best stand your ground ballad you’ll hear this year.

Featuring the twin guitar barrage of Jeff Brenneman and Tory Troutman, the Primal thump of Dirk Doucette and the smoky neon vocals of chanteuse Veronica Ashe, “An Oasis Where Nothing Explodes” is further buttressed by contributions from the Pacific Rim: Keyboardist Myungjoo Lee is on board for five tracks, Hannah Seo saws fiddle, young Donghyun Kim makes “Moon Stone” memorable, and Guest bassist Bob Mora nails the whole thing down with two unpaid guest appearances!

Special Guest Appearance from singer-songwriter Mary Elizabeth Young


• “A Little Summer Schisto,” THE summer track of 2011
• “Arbitrary” video now in high rotation

[ Now on the Lippy Waiter Intl Music Label ]
~Physical Copies of all CDs Available Upon Request~