Friday, July 6, 2012

Now Now's Threads on "Threads"

One of the original mission statements of this blog is to spread the word on more obscure bands whose lack of visibility doesn’t reflect the quality of their work. However, my recent revisit to the Wondermints and, subsequently, the new Beach Boys brought to my attention how some aspects of my listening is thickly painted with hues from the past.  With the exception of Field Music’s Plumb, which miraculously fires on both the prog and the pop cylinders, the most interesting and fresh songwriting thrown in my current path has been identifiably synth-pop and electronica.  On a reader’s suggestion, however, I discovered Threads from an up-and-coming band called Now Now, and it has me excited again about the potentials of energetic, melodic rock music.

Threads could be read as a young woman’s coming of age diary. Confessionals of this kind are generally typecast as folky and melodic, and admittedly, the relaxed, stream-of-consiousness melodies that interweave to form Now Now’s songs owe something to this stereotype. Now Now’s prodigiously intimate songwriting, however, is driven by the immensity of post-rock and the energy of Foo Fighters. They often conjure a tornado’s momentum and an intensity that could threaten to swallow the ultimately pleasing dual vocals of Cacie Dalager and Jess Abbott. These two never relinquish control, however, which preserves a certain "indie girl" singer-songwriter vibe. As a result, Threads is simultaneously soothing and powerful, and cruises along with a vitality that can’t be ignored.

There is an electric spark to Now Now’s music that bespeaks of a unique chemistry between the band’s members (who, incidentally, met each other in high school band!).  They rely on well-rounded, tasteful musicianship to employ instruments as tools for songcraft rather than platforms for virtuosity.  It’s difficult to describe or empirically pin down Now Now's synergy, but they undoubtedly complement each other in a way that allows their music to transcend.  As much as they sound killer turned-up and electric, however, their songs are also strong enough to withstand reinterpretation.  There are many interesting and surprising interactions between the vocal melodies and instrumental aspects of their music that allows their work to hold up in a variety of performance situations.

There are also hints of lyric threads on Threads. The lead track The Pull is an atmospheric reinterpretation of the title track, and the final, lingering question posed by the album closer Magnet is “can you still feel the pull?”

Magnet by Now, Now on Grooveshark

The answer is yes - I do still feel it.  I usually just want to just start the album over, and I restrain myself to keep it fresh. The songs are infectious and consistent enough, however, to keep coming to mind outside of the listening experience. I was reflecting on the album's bold warp and woof on July 4th while sitting on a hill overlooking Austin, watching fireworks silently light up all over the town’s horizon. From this vantage point, I was finding it was difficult to pick out a favorite track as the album played out in my mind's ear.  This probably means that in the long run, Threads will be a keeper.

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