Nothing loves you – RVA Mag
Philly shoegazers Nothing is coming to the Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House on Tuesday, bringing unlikely holiday harmonies with their haze of melodic guitar noise. As breaks from the holiday craziness go on, it should be especially refreshing.
The Christmas season can be a tough time, especially if you’re struggling to find the money and inspiration for gifts. But if you want to try gifting a holiday gift in advance to a friend with an indie music penchant – who probably needs a break from the high-pressure holiday season as much as you do – consider this: take a pair of tickets to see Rien when they come to Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House on Tuesday, December 7th.
This group from Philadelphia recently followed their mid-pandemic album, The great gloomy, with The big gloomy B-faces, released last month. You might call it dreampop, shoegaze, postpunk, or grunge, but the important thing to know is that their retro version of Delfonics’ “La La Means I Love You” is the best take on holiday harmonies you’ll find anywhere. or. in the world of underground music this year. If you want a soundtrack for a romantic evening at dusk window shopping that does NOT include the same Christmas Muzak you’ve heard a million times, this is a good solution.
My favorite Nothing album is the one they released in 2018, Dance on the asphalt. I was in the romantic mood when I put it on, and I immediately loved the impression created by posting the album on YouTube. YouTube is one of my favorite platforms for streaming music, and they make this album fun and cool, like the digital album cover is watching me from my computer screen instead of a bracket on the wall or something like that. It’s just enough technology for me; the blue light and the pale lady on the album cover make me feel like I could be listening to this music in a digital cafe.
Dance on the asphalt doesn’t bring the same fun vibe as their cover of Delfonics, but that’s okay – the aloof and pessimistic shoegaze of the âZero Dayâ opening is just as rewarding in its own way. Then, “Blue Line Baby”, a nostalgic aughts pop rock intro that puts me in the dreampop mood. Reminds me of the one in Beach House flowering LP, and in particular the song “Myth”. The two groups tend to return to the same themes over and over again.
The third track shows that the album as a whole will present a more varied approach. “You Wind Me Up” picks things up in a more pop-punk space, but you feel like it’s going to last a little longer than, say, a Digging Up Virgins song. Its soft textures and lush soundscapes dampen breakdowns and make it a swaying and dancing song.
“Plastic Migraine” dwells on caffeine addiction as a metaphor for letting someone go without feeling that you can go on without them. It reminds me of BPA and all the dangers to our environment – a big concern for many songwriters. I think music is a great place to explore anxieties of all types and place them within a larger frame of reference.
“us / we / are” is once again nostalgic for the pop of the aughts, even reminiscent of the 90s with Radiohead‘s “Creep”. The title may come from a similar anxiety, around identity and its effect on our ability to have relationships. This song is romantic and dancing in a way that reminds me of the pop-rock I played at my own reunions and proms. It is clinging to a feeling; I still think the electric guitar sound I hear here is flowery, so I can’t wait to hear more âflowersâ ââas the album progresses.
“Us / we / are” seizes the title of “my favorite song so far” with its openness and energy … but then “Hall On Palace Pier” appears. The descriptive title of it gives an insight into an intriguing adventure story and taps into the emotions that surround it. The bass in this song really cuts you off, and it just keeps getting louder as it goes. The song’s lineup encompasses everything from Pink Floyd and REM to the sweetness of Wilco circa Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. After a while contemplating what the melody reminded me of, I finally placed it: “Such Great Heights” by the postal service. There are also hints of a million great folk songs, like âRhymes and Reasonsâ by John Denverâ¦ or something beautiful like that.
“I Hate The Flowers” is for metal people, those who show up because Nothing is signed to Relapse Records. It’s heavy but muffled, using an edgy melody for the chorus and giving just a hint of headbang in the backing vocals. The hoarse backups and mellow lead vocals create an intriguing contrast, again reminding me of REM. Nothing’s songs are more repetitive and convey a kind of dazed feeling, but in reality they’re very complex – especially this one.
“The Carpenter’s Son” is long, with an isolated track that brings that painful and lonely vibe. The notes waver as if they can barely stand on their own. Following on from such a heavy song, this one seems particularly aware of its own empty surroundings. âI don’t want to see youâ is a line that stands out. Some of the YouTube commentators really didn’t like this one, for what it’s worth. It has an almost beachy electric guitar sound, like the Beach Boys guitars, only sad and cold instead of happy and sunny. It’s hard for me to hear, and I would play another Beach House track, “Beyond Love” (track four on Cherry Depression) as a girl-power counterpoint to this one.
Finally, we come to “(HOPE) is just another word with a hole in it”. As Dominic Palermo’s voice cuts through the haze (which reigned other than a brief moment of clarity during “we / we / are”), I wonder how much he resembles Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. I loved the drums before the vocals came back – the tone offers the clear vocals I was hoping to hear from the vocals.
You might get a clearer vocal sound with Nothing when they perform at Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House on Tuesday night with openers Bambara and Midwife. Either way, it will be an adventure just to find out what to expect – one that I really recommend. Doors open at 7 p.m., tickets are $ 18 and are available online now.
Best Photo via Rien / Facebook