March 17, 2017 by Natasha Hajo
Spring is right around the corner and what better way is there to ring in the first week of the season than to bop to the jangly jams of Chicago’s freshest indie rock band, NE-HI?
Having released their second album “Offers” Feb. 24, the quartet is now touring the States and making a stop to play at PhilaMOCA with Philadelphia’s own Lithuania and Laser Background. All in all, this is not a show you’ll want to miss, folks.
In an interview with The Triangle, NE-HI bassist James Weir described the experience of making their name in Chicago’s DIY scene as “a beautiful time when the only focus was just writing music.” It’s hard to deny that the band has come a long way from basement shows and from my first listen of their “Stay Young” single released in 2016, I had no doubt that storms were a-brewin’. Graduating from the underground scene while still paying respect to its beloved gritty sound, NE-HI displays a mastered variety of tracks on “Offers.”
Having scrapped most of their first session of the album, the group took a short hiatus in recording to tour and rewrite before going back to the studio. “There was a weird pressure and energy that stressed us out the point where the songwriting wasn’t was fluid or fun. The songs we wrote reflected that in the first session — they didn’t have the pureness or the energy that we wanted,” Weir explained.
If the energy they were going for was easy, breezy, beautiful, it was most definitely achieved. The music video for what might just be the best track on the album, “Buried on the Moon,” is the quintessence of the album — laid back but equally vibrant. When asking Weir about the inspiration behind the video, he cited Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and Tom Petty’s “Waiting Room.” Weir claims they wanted to keep it simple with a VHS quality video of them playing in a cool room. Basically, “it’s an homage to ’80s MTV.”
The starting track, “Palm of Hand,” is lively thanks to the nifty guitar playing exhibited from start to end and contrasts well with its final counterpart — the dreamy, mellowed out “Stay Young.” Another notable tune is “Sisters” with its foot-tapping tempo and catchy lyrics. Weir’s favorite tune on “Offers” is the title track:
“That one had a cool little story behind it. We were just in the studio, our buddy Collin Croom from Twin Peaks came by and we just smoked a joint and wrote the song. It came together within an hour and a half. We had a few beers and recorded it and it turned out to be one of my favorites.”
“There are cool moments in song writing where it’s like you’re like searching for something for a really long time and looking really hard to find it but a lot of the best moments just come within 30 minutes. It’s a weird, cool, instinctive process,” Weir explains.
If you’re staying in Philly over spring break, make your way over to PhilaMOCA on March 28 to get a little taste of Chicago. NE-HI’s sophomore album certainly demands for live listening and whole-hearted grooving. It will be good and fun. See you there.