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Nice Nice, "Spring"/"Summer"/"Fall"/"Winter"

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Nice Nice are Jason Buehler and Mark Shirazi: a multi-talented duo from Portland, Oregon who have demonstrated through their brilliant full length album, Chrome, that they can fill sound to the walls with only a guitar and drums and some skilled real-time effects processing. With this series—a limited quartet of numbered CD EPs which had to be mail ordered directly through Temporary Residence—I hate to admit, on the whole, I'm underwhelmed.

Temporary Residence

What the duo proved on Chrome is that there was no time wasted: the songs were well-developed even though most of them were quite short (I'd love to comment on Yesss but I have yet to find it in any store). "Born of Bells part 1" opens Spring with a burst of energy, as if something grand is about to take place, which, sadly, never does. Approximately two minutes goes by of letting the guitar sort of echo on an auto-pilot loop before drumming can be heard. The drones permeate throughout. The interplay between Jason and Mark is somewhat disconnected and doesn't end up constructing what I consider to be a real song, as they come together in some sort of arena rock band finale acrobatics at the end. For the rest of the EP, songs come very close to breaking out, but never quite do. If I'm not mistaken, I think the theme is to wait until the end of the track and suddenly start doing something that forms the basis of a song, but kill it before a song actually breaks out. I find it irritating, like one of those long jokes whose punchline is basically the pain of bearing an extended story for some lame, anticlimactic end.

"Crown & Corona" starts off Summer with more promise, as an evil psych rock like melody emerges from the low drones of the first track, then builds, but once again, things don't erupt as they sound like they want to. From here, the band could launch into anything either like Comets On Fire-ish or Acid Mothers-y (or best yet, like Nice Nice) and I would have no complaints, but things instead simply quiet down to another boring drone, drifting into a Hawaiian-like guitar bit with some wordless vocalizations at one point and some chintzy effects on the drums later. The drifting country guitars on the following "Cowboys Are Indians" are quite pretty, but a song like this would only do well as a valley, nested between some more rawkus bits. The third and fourth tracks, "Crickets & Cicadas (parts 1 and 2)," are equally as forgettable, drifting into ennui like the EP before it, with the last track that simply doesn't want to end.

Fall is the silver lining. When my package arrived this past week from TRL with the discs inside I admit I was far less enthusiastic as I was when the first two EPs came in, however, I was impressed with what was contained. The first track, "Dawn of Dusk," opens with a peppy acoustic guitar and melodica bit. It's friendly, original, pleasant and fun.  It's not something I would expect from Nice Nice but it sounds "complete." (Plus, after the first two EPs of this series I honestly don't know what to expect any more.) Acoustic guitar drives the rest of these songs, with some external sound effects, backwards sounding electronic guitar riffs, and other unidentifiable percussion, all of which build actual songs, containing melody and structure, something the rest of the CDs in this series sadly lack.  It ends with "Down, Down, Down Pt. 2," a wistful walking-paced guitar melody which is perfect for sitting on the front porch, watching the sun go down, and having a beer. This is what good music is all about.

Winter, unfortunately, restores the disappointment set forth by the first two EPs with one long 22 minute song, "And Many More." I've heard Tibetan bowls and bowing of cymbals done from bands going back over 20 years (just about every band who has a website on Brainwashed did it back in the 1980s), and I absolutely hate drum solos.  "And Many More" is one painfully long and pointless wank.  If people could buy these separately then I would strongly recommend sticking only with the Fall, but, with any luck, the band will find out what got the best response out of the fans and take hints for the production of their next full album.  I know they can do better than this.


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 February 2006 15:23  


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