Release Date: Feb 24, 2017
Record label: Grand Jury
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
NE-HI 2014 self-titled debut was cookie dough--delicious, particularly tasty when drunk, but undeniably raw. The band took a lo-fi, '60s garage rock sound and sprinkled in some chips from the '80s college underground, resulting in laconic, euphoric jams whose scant words were not nearly as important as creating a visceral groove and reverb-laden guitar-scape. It was the essence of a sweaty basement show in a bottle; while the record itself showed promise, you really needed to experience it live to understand the full effect.
Chicago quartet NE-HI recorded their first album very quickly after the band was formed, but on their second album, Offers, they took their time in the studio and came up with something just as live and loose, but more impressively tuneful and sonically powerful. Their twitchy dual-guitar attack, jumpy rhythm section, and pleasantly howled vocals combined with hooky, sometimes tricky songs make NE-HI a proud member of the cadre of bands influenced by Postcard and Flying Nun records and U.K. post-punkers like Wire and Swell Maps.
Despite a resurgence in the Midwest's DIY indie scene, NE-HI have so far slipped under the radar. While the band watched fellow statesmen Whitney, Twin Peaks and Hippo Campus find success internationally, their 2014 debut failed to make any significant waves. The self-titled album emerged almost accidentally, a result of recording sessions for a friend's film soundtrack that was ultimately scrapped.
Selectivity is the calling card of Chicago's NE-HI. On the band's self-titled 2014 debut, which was recorded in one of the many city basements that grew them, they never showed their full hand. Four of its nine tracks were a single hook of eight or nine words and almost nothing else. Jason Balla's guitar lines featured plenty of space between each note, and they honk, nasal and blaring, as if their garage indie rock was designed with the express purpose of forcing their way through to the back of an overcrowded basement.