Nothing Amazing Happens Here – Highly Conceptual Performance Art (digital EP)

NAHH - Highly Conceptual coverBrooklyn-based D.I.Y. duo Nothing Amazing Happens Here are, without a doubt, my favourite band named for a FLCL reference. Two provisos: I hope it’s a FLCL reference, and I admit they’re the only band I know who might take their name from that awesome OVA.

(Actually I just noticed that their Bandcamp page has a second record listed on it, and that has artwork taken from the show, so I am right. Sweet.)

Aside from how much of a nerd I am, and how much you should watch that anime if you haven’t, Nothing Amazing Happens Here recorded this four-track EP in one member’s den over the course of a week. There’s a real garage feel to it; suitably sloppy and loose with a bit of a slacker vibe. Despite its humble origins the drum sound is also pretty good; the sound and production isn’t uniformly solid, however, and some of the vocals in particular are pretty indistinct. Both members of the band take the mic at different points, though, and some tracks come through more clearly than others.

Opener ‘Moody’ is one of the more vocally sharp tunes, although they’re still pushed a bit far down in the mix to be sharply audible. Still, with buzzsaw guitars similarly low in the mix and aggressive drums with a fuckton of cymbals clashing away, the tunes suitably fast-paced and the vocal works well enough even where you can’t make out the lyrics so clearly.

‘Winter Was Freezing’ is a more restrained tune, utilising a more noodly guitar approach but keeping it thick with fuzz and reverb. The vocals here are higher and the different vocal range fits this tune better, but again it’s kinda hard to make out what’s being sung. I’m not sure if it’s the recording, the production or just the delivery, but it’s a shame regardless.

Third track ‘Paleo’ is probably the least conventional track present, at least for D.I.Y alt/punk rock. There’s a tropical vibe in the intro; the drumbeat and guitar tone recall Vampire Weekend but there’s more energy here than in your typical dull VW offering. NAHH’s call and response vocals work nicely too, even if, once again, I’ve little idea what’s being sung. The song’s short at just over two minutes but it keeps the few looped riffs that compose it sounding fresh throughout.

The EP finishes with ‘Burroughs’, which introduces a brass section – I’m not sure if that’s played or a sample, as it’s a fairly subtle inclusion and I only noticed it after a few plays. Still, this is a catchy, upbeat tune (despite its namesake) with a fair bit of energy.

Highly Conceptual Performance Art provides a decent dose of entertainment and a small dose of variation over its short length; the guys behind it evidently had fun recording it and it’s with the same sense of fun that it should be approached. It’s a sloppy (sometimes deliberately, sometimes not) package and hardly an essential part of anyone’s music collection, but if you’re forever thirsty for more fuzzed-up DIY rock & roll then grab this – it’s a free download, after all.

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