BTR Artist of the Week: NICE NICE

If you have ever struggled to describe a new band, stumbling upon adjectives and running through a mental catalogue of musicians to no avail, then consider Nice Nice. This post rock outfit from Portland, Oregon, composed of multi-instrumentalist Jason Buehler and Mark Shirazi, eludes categorization.

Musicians have always scorned genres but few produce music with a sonic thumbprint so unique it warrants its own section of the record store. In painting with the broadest strokes, Nice Nice can be defined as post-rock with their heavily ambient electronic sound, sparse vocals, and lack of the traditional rock instrumentation.

Particularly, their music embodies a minimalistic style heard on tracks such as “I’m a Human Person” and “Control Your Areas” from their late 2008 album, Yesss!. These tracks are built upon synthesized instrumental loops, with eerie textures and shifts in dynamics that create a playground of sound as opposed to a structured musical composition. The result is pleasing and ready-made for study by sequencer enthusiasts.

Nice Nice show the breath of their influences on “UhOh” a synth based arrangement with drone vocals and hip-hop drums. What’s more, “One Hit’” has all the features of your typical indie rock song. Perhaps, the band’s greatest strength is their willingness to make any kind of music. The lack of consistency between songs is emblematic of their unbounded creativity.

In addition to their experimental sound, Nice Nice has also taken an unconventional approach to record making. In the summer of 2005 they released two EPs, Spring and Summer, and just a year after that they released two more, Winter and Fall. The collection consists of lengthy songs with multiple parts and ambient instrumentals that follow a given seasonal theme; the songs on Fall are acoustic folk instrumentals while the electric guitars on Summer are distorted and accompanied by live drums.

Just this year the band signed with renowned British label Warp and released the single “See Waves” from their 2010 album, Extra Wow, which is one of their most mainstream releases so far. “See Waves”, like much of the album, is relentlessly upbeat, laced with kaleidoscopic riffs and feet happy rhythms. Nice Nice truly have a talent for composing sonic landscapes with their music; “Big Bounce’”, “On and On”, and “Everything Falling Apart” evoke images of falling confetti and a festival of lights.

While each song has enough strength to stand alone, when listened to in succession they blend into a dreamy haze. Only “Set and Settling”and “A Vibration” break the fog with heavy rock drums and traditional vocal arrangements. For what the album lacks in focus it compensates with ceaseless creative expansion. Nice Nice are so ever-evolving in their sound, classifying them by a genre only captures what they once were.

Nice Nice are currently finishing up a tour across the United States and it is a show you do not want to miss. Also, be sure to listen up to BreakThru Radio all week long for music from the band!

Nice Nice LIVE!!!

Apr 26 – The Record Bar – Kansas City, MO
Apr 27 – Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, NE
May 25 – Firebird – Saint Louis, MO
May 28 – LPR – New York, NY
May 29 – Middle East Downstairs – Cambridge, MA
May 30 – Johnny Brendas – Philadelphia, PA
May 31 – Rock and Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
June 1 – Grog Shop – Cleveland Heights, OH
June 2 – Turner Hall Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI
June 3 – Turf Club – Minneapolis, MN
June 6 – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR
June 8 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
June 10 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA

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– Ugonna Igweatu


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