Thank you, Providence, R.I. Thank you for giving bands all over the country the permission to stop making sense. To stop caring about 4/4 timing and what sounds “punk.” To begin throwing out what is conventional and begin rewriting the rule books. Thank you Lightning Bolt, Arab on Radar, Olneyville Sound System, Black Dice (at one point), Munch, Mindflayer, Forcefield, Landed and the rest of the late and great Fort Thunder’s reclusive weirdos for creating a whole new genre that defies all genres. And, with the way effectively paved for too many of bands to do an unoriginal take on this overtly original style, thank you Nice Nice for being the real deal.
There is something in the water up there in Portland, Ore. It’s like Providence dumped a load of their fucked-up art trash in the waters of the Atlantic and it floated down through the Panama Canal and made its way up the West Coast, hitting the Northwest full force (and if Erase Errata, Numbers and Crack:WAR are any indication, it washed up on the shores of San Francisco first). There has been an abundance of new bands making noise of late. And they all seem, for the most part, to be the real deal. Die Monitr Batss destroys conventional pop music one step at a time. Chromatics keeps the ghost of post-punk kept alive (and dirty). Sleet Mute Night Mute is slowly becoming the most hyped-up band in the North Pacific states. It looks like Portland’s Nice Nice is the next in line.
Originally from Olympia, Wash., the duo — Jason Buehler and Mark Shirazi — takes on quite the feat here: to make a valid full-length out of techniques they mastered on last year’s seven-inch, There Will Be Slogans, released on Allentown, Pa.’s White Denim. Anyone can throw down two or three killer songs on a single, but it’s the transition to LP that puts a lot of these bands in an early grave.
Chrome opens with “Look, You’re On TV,” which is like the bastard pairing of !!! and Mindflayer. It’s like Brian and Matt’s patented bleep blip/solid drumming combination paired with straight up funk. The second song is even more straight-forwardly funky, with that blown-out, fuzzy mike sound made famous by Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt/Mindflayer), and used since then by just about everyone from Pink & Brown to Neon Hunk. Providence really comes alive and shows its ugly head in “Chez Clix,” which is all blown-out distortion and robotic drumming a la the first few Black Dice records. The rest of the record alternates between noisy art rock (“Chrome Cabal”) and mellow, tripped-out jams (“Thank You”), occasionally throwing in a soul-fueled funk/dance/whatever track to both confuse your brain and get your body moving at the same time.
With MTV milking bad commercialized “screamo” and what is supposedly punk, bands like Nice Nice are our only hope. We live in a day and age where you can’t just speed up what’s been done before. You have to smash it to pieces, light it on fire, extinguish said fire and then glue what’s left back together and press play. Only when all conventions and stereotypes are thrown out the window do things start to get interesting and original again, which is what punk rock is all about.