Nite Jewel, School of Seven Bells, Netherfriends

“Minimalist pop, Sci-fi electronic constructions.”

Nite Jewel

Am I Real?
Gloriette Records

Los Angeles, California
Produced and recorded by Nite Jewel and Cole M Greif-Niell // mastered by Pete Layman at Infrasonic Sound
The album begins with a kooky feel and a danceable groove, “Another Horizon” starts the adventure off with a light-hearted step. Here the “chorus” is fanciful and playful vocalizations and not “lyrics.” Some of these synthesizer pre-sets will remind listeners of the 80s. The gentle grooves and hooks will remind others of Zero 7 but the harmonies are organic, sexy and certainly justifiably unique.
“White Lies” repeats an eerie lyric informing us that the future is full of bright lights, but contains many white lies. Perhaps a comment on overconsumption and the denial those of us in the Western world must maintain in order to enjoy our opulence? Its a familiar science fiction message- but now in a cheerful, head bobbing new medium.
“Forget You and I” has some of the most gorgeous vocal performances on the disc, with an ocean of sound underneath, minimal percussion, twinkling synthesizers, and a melody that reminds me of Enya’s catchiest stuff.
In “Am I Real?” I picture a chorus of androids chanting the title, and imagine a scene that could be in novel from Phillup K. Dick. This song is the most organic and “live” sounding of the whole album, with guitar solos and an snappy electric bass performance, which would certainly let it rest comfortably in a mixtape alongside songs from Feist.

School of Seven Bells

Disconnect from Desire
New York, NY

Produced by Benjamin Curtis
Vagrant Records/Ghostly International.

Somewhere West of Eurythmics and Stereolab and East of Asobi Seksu and Blonde Redhead, there is school; a school of harmonies, angelic voices, shoe gazing, heavy beats, chiming guitars, skittery synths, and etheric moods. The School of Seven Bells brings us their sophomore album: Disconnect from Desire.
“Windstorm” is a great start, these repetitive synth howls succeed in putting the listener into a pleasant trance. Chugging guitars from Benjamin Curtis ( of Secret Machines) drive the pieces forward.
The voices of Alejandra and Claudia Deheza blend to perfection on each track. “Dust Devil'”s arpeggiated blips and cheesy drum fills allow us an 80s nostalgia moment. “You don’t have to be cool” Alejandra repeats, and eases us into her lounge, full of comfortable pillows of sound. “There are so many things I wish I could say to you in a way that you’d understand,” she sings on ILU. Her lyrics are always genuine and compassionate.
The mood is consistent throughout, this album should be listened to as a whole, there isn’t a stand out track that seems more “poppy” or accessible than the others.

photos by Sarah Sadler

NetherFreinds (Chicago, Il)
Cabin Party // Fairbanks, AK // September 17, 2010)
Shawn Rosenblatt charmed us all with a wry smile, mutton sideburns and a dozen catchy, friendly songs filled with smarmy lyrics and happy guitar riffs. He sings into a delay pedal, and does his own back up vocals through clever manipulation of a looping pedal. His compositions were grounded by an enthralling drum performance from Scott Westrick.
He kicked things off with “Really “that has a fanciful la la chorus, and fun latin rhythms. On “Stop Smoking A$$hole, Cigarettes” he cooed “I can jump out of airplanes too, but I’m not going to get you drunk and take advantage of you.”  Its a love song, though a weird one.

“Friends with Lofts” was a fun psychedelic song, “I played at my friends loft, we forgot the band’s name by the end of it all.” He criticizes and sings about the indie band cliches with lyrics that make me smile.
Shawn is on a tour where he hopes to visit each of the 50 states and record a song in each of them. When he announced that he would be playing his last song, a cheerful crowd member suggested a ‘worm pit,” and people began writhing on the floor. We just wanted to show you how we do it in Alaska, Shawn, here’s hoping a bit of your Alaskan experience ends up in your future songs. Thanks for sharing your joyful music with us.

I made these drawings when they played with a keyboard player, Chris, at Pianos in Manhattan.

Check out his blog here:

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