Release Date: May 17, 2011
Record label: Woodsist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk
When they released their 2008 debut, San Francisco trio Nodzzz were just one of many jangly, lo-fi guitar acts making waves. As Pitchfork's Joe Colly noted at the time, there was a chance they'd "face similar (and probably misguided) backlash-driven criticism" that would eventually befall similar cool-cred-chasing bands. But Nodzzz, quite oppositely, couldn't have been any less cool-- childlike, clear-eyed, and at times off-puttingly cheery, their geeky earnestness set them apart, and no amount of tape crust could hide it.
I am disturbed and yet enthused by this San Francisco band’s second longform disc. The nerd-geek impulse in rock, to rock, is nothing new, stretching all the way back to Buddy Holly and also given life by everyone from the Feelies to Jonathan Richman (the man infamously dubbed “The Wimp King” by no less than Lester Bangs). Certainly it has been an ongoing tradition manifest in San Francisco for awhile, with local groups like the Zip Code Rapists, Icky Boyfriends and Three Day Stubble kicking out the pocket protector jams.
Sounding clever and naïve at the same time is no easy task, and it says a lot for San Franciscan trio Nodzzz that they're able to play both cards so well on their second album, Innings. Armed with two guitars and a drum kit, Nodzzz aim for simplicity in both songwriting and performance, but they have an impressive knack for generating sharp, irresistible melodies despite their minimal instrumental approach, and they fold no small amount of wit and smarts into their lyrics, especially the comic but self-analytical "Fear of Advice," the jaded "Love Is Code," and the lean and punky "Troubled Times. " While Innings doesn't exactly sound polished, the production is noticeably cleaner and better detailed than the group's first album, and if this music lacks some of the physical impact of the debut, the interplay between guitarists Anthony Atlas and Sean Paul Presley has developed a greater sophistication, while drummer Brian Girgus is steadier and more confident.
The attachment one holds to the lackadaisical years of adolescence will generally differ depending on the environment one grows up. However, certain themes resonate as wholly universal: joy, angst, naïve heartbreak, defiance, and wonder. In popular music, the past few years have brought a string of thought provoking records that chronicle the years of lost innocence with a very mature outlook.
One look at the band name Nodzzz and you can get some idea of what you’re in for. There’s something of Wavves in there, but the stuttered z’s are a little sillier, a little goofier, a little more approachable. The San Fransisco jangle-masters prove to be just that, their sound riding the indie pop waves, but without that same edge or personality.