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Nice, Not Ordinary

Nice, Not Ordinary

by Jess Henson / 08.06.2009

Oh, great. Another gig review. What’s new? Everyone knows Indie is everywhere. And since ‘underground’ went overboard and found itself on everyone’s lips and hips, pop cult cool is more a handy lubricant for social intercourse and a cheap commodity for plummeting profit margins than a rare experience. Seems Pulp’s hit song wasn’t far wrong, because there are loads of bands on the bloc and originality is in short supply. (No, that’s not the name of Posh’s new perfume; it’s a je ne sais quoi that gets the groove on when the booze doesn’t.) So Saturday night’s semi-sit-down to three acoustic-ish trios at the Assembly could have been special or second-rate. Instead it was sublime, though it took its time to get there. (A bit like this review)

Don’t get me wrong. Miss Texas 1977 were sweet, but they weren’t superb. They’ve borrowed the trawling southern growl from other more established artists of the faux-trash Nouveau Folk niche. Crabs In The Florist seem to have inspired the foot-tapping, and the guitar effects were Andy. Definitely want to hear more of the lovely lady Julia whose name was on lots of lips.

Nice, Not Ordinary

The Simon Van Gend Band weren’t bad, either. Their man-in-the-middle-of-the-road appeal and catchy song-writing is less mundane than it once was. Beyond unmodulated vocals, and blithe and inappropriate attempts to transform acoustic spirited songs into rock anthems, they’re enjoyable. And, despite being secretly disliked by certain media mouthpieces who never seemed to have an opinion in the first place, they were likeable because their charm is their own. But they weren’t brilliant.

What took the night from pedestrian to profound was the last trio. Hearing them was one of those rare experiences that put hope back on the guest list. Extremely understated, their rhythms are cheerful, their lyrics distempered with sober insights, and their melodies are unusual yet easy on the ear. In some senses, it suggests elements of the song writing and singing of Simon and Garfunkel, John Mayer and Michael Buble. Thing is, they’ve only just started, and already they have a distinct voice that will take them far beyond common comparisons. While there is something defiantly dapper and effortless about them on stage that gives the audience the go-ahead to feel good, there’s something disarmingly unaffected that smacks of the making of real stars. In a world drowning in ordinary, I’m happy to say that the night belonged to Nice.

*Pic – James De Stadler

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RESPONSES (7)
  1. Anonymous says:

    who is the sad sack writer of this “review”.
    Jess Hensen. Hmmmm …
    Its amazing that one person feels they can diss the thousands of bands that exist under the canopy of Indie. Its not just Devendra Banhart you’re bored with honey. Unless you have NO taste at all, your entire music collection consists of Indie. But lets not go there.
    Perhaps you should use some of that handy lubricant on your brain and not so much on “social intercourse”. You may have a “rare experience”.
    It’s one thing being disdainful, if one is intelligent, then one can make it entertaining because on some level, critics are entertainers too, but if one is both stupid and disdainful then the effect is terribly dissonant and unpleasant for those of us that can write/think.
    You are expressing YOURself after all, albeit a sort of pernicious ambush of someone else’s art. In this case, your feelings are “pedestrian”, uninformed and typically “pop cult cool”.
    good luck Jess. You will fortunately have to be smarter than you are to be a good read.

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  2. Robbie Webb says:

    I didn’t see that gig but I’ve seen others of theirs (Nice) – all I can say is that anyone with a bone of music in their constitution who doesn’t recognize fresh and destined for greatness when they see it has got to be blind. These guys have something unique and as Jess said, they are only starting out. NICE will be a name I will be claining to have backed form way back when they rock the world stages in years to come!

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  3. anon says:

    jess henson is a poor excuse for a journalist.

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  4. Harmony Korine says:

    I have to say, there are some really cool articles and reviews on Mahala. Great review of aKing and awesome interview with The Dirty Skirts. Thanks to the Henries.
    But this review is juvenile. I mean i agree Nice are amazing but I adore Miss T and Simon.
    I don’t think snobbery and bitchiness are cool qualities for Mahala to support.

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  5. Sean says:

    This review is ordinary, not nice. Think before you publish Miss Henson…

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  6. Tony says:

    I do agree with the with Jess, there is nothing wrong by just giving your honest opinion, and the more people dislike it, the more you know you are on track to become a great Joernalist. It is not a popularity contest.

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  7. joezawinul says:

    @ Anonymous & anon (as they always are)… God you people are a bunch of whiney pussies… Jess is a ridiculously intelligent, insightful journalist, and one of the few who aren’t just out there to simply people-please but rather give the brutal honest truth about the SA music scene. Its what we need if we’re ever going to have some kind of standard in this country and not continue to support shit like The Parlotones. Its not easy hearing about music you like leaving a negative impression on another listener. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so really now, grow up and get the fuck over it.

    @ anonymous “…if one is both stupid and disdainful then the effect is terribly dissonant and unpleasant for those of us that can write/think.”
    I feel embarrassed for you reading this kind of arrogant shit… I couldn’t bear the idea of reading anything else you’ve so ‘cleverly’ written… God, good luck with THAT.

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