Monday, September 30, 2013

Nonagon- The Last Hydronaut

I like Nonagon. Let me start with that.
I'm pretty old. As in, I'm past the age where anyone is confusing me with a young man. So, I know I'm going to lose a few folks with the next paragraph, but bear with me, we're getting to the good part.
See, I wonder whatever happened to Nomeansno? Or Alice Donut? Phantom Tollbooth? Bitch Magnet? The point is that there used to be all these strange bands playing jazzy posthardcore without being self conscious about it. They thought they were just playing punk rock, and seemingly had no idea that they were doing it "wrong", but kept following whatever strange muse led them there, anyway. Nonagon reminds me of them.
Yes, this is math-y punk, but with a lot more melody than that might imply. Pop mathcore? Yeah, that doesn't roll off the tongue, and besides, having melody isn't the same thing as playing pop. It's like a mainline to the early to mid 1980's in Minneapolis and Chicago, combined with late 1990's math rock. Like Rifle Sport mixed with both Drive like Jehu and Polvo. So, yes, noisy, yes complex time signatures, but no, not exactly atonal. The closest analogy would be to Jawbox, where yes, the melodies are abstract, and angular, but they are definitely there. Now, if they had an instrument like J Robbins' voice, they would have enough melody that we wouldn't be having this confusing talk. You'd say- ok, I geddit, melodic punk, but minus all the cliches- and that's what they are doing, but since there's no clear, traditionally melodic feature, like J Robbins' voice, it's a bit more removed. You have to work for it, a little bit. I don't mind that part because, well, did I mention that I'm old? In my day, sonny, we had to walk 11 miles to the gig, in the snow, with our gear, and no roadies, and then, if we worked really hard, we might find one riff that carried a tune! What I'm really saying is that there wasn't a spoon fed genre so that you could distinguish whether or not it was "cool" to like something, without giving it a full try, first- and that's what Nonagon demands- a full try because you're not going to just hear the hook in the first 10 seconds.
So, again, I like Nonagon- they play their punk rock the old fashioned way- you have to earn it. At the same time, they do what might be considered accessible music as compared to their peers in the Noise/math midwestern scene. To give you an idea- certain band members post on the Electrical Audio forums. Get the idea?
As I've said beforeThe songs go zoom, thud, strum and smack in a most satisfying way, and the overall sense of angst, and wry humour with just a bit of nervous anxiety is a great formula.

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