Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rockometry 101 with Elusive Nonagons

Now that i'm once again in possession of a computer that doesn't want to shut down every 10 minutes as it gets used, maybe i'll be motivated once again to start updating regularly. I still haven't quite worked out a regular routine of motivating myself to sit and write after my 9 PM dinner, which, after a long 8-hour second shift, leaves me more inclined to zonk out on the couch as i continue to plow through Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Still, i have to make this work somehow, so let's get back into it with some geometry-themed bands that have just put out some baller new tunes in the last week or so.

First off, my boys in Chicago's obtuse-angled, math-addled post-punk dynamo Nonagon have unleashed People Live Everywhere, a sort of obviously-titled 5-song blur of rhythmic 90-degree turns, occasionally jerky grooves, and always hard-driving, serrated tunage. A "Mission of Burma moves 8 hours down the coast to DC and recruits the Jawbox rhythm section" fanfic of a band, Nonagon is anchored by drummer Tony Aimone, formerly of Chicago ska-punks The Blue Meanies, who i once saw cover Operation Ivy in front of a packed and pulsing throng of Concert Cafe kids in Green Bay, only to follow it up by saying "ok, now never listen to that band again; listen to this instead" and launching into "Ace of Spades." Aimone sends Nonagon's abrasive riffs through time signatures even and odd, while bassist Robert Gomez and guitarist (and infectiously energetic superfan of all things rockin') John Hastie sweat, churn, and scream. People Live Everywhere is complex and intelligent, but not exhaustingly so; it doesn't take an accounting degree to latch onto the lurching and occasionally downright funky guitar play happening in songs like "The Swifts," with its tense competing dual vocal lines that converge in a "it's still not easy!" release of balls-out energy.

As with so many of the bands i love, Nonagon fits squarely in the "why don't more people know about this band?" category, but if you're in Chicago this Friday, February 10th, you can rectify it by attending their record release show for People Live Everywhere at the best bar in Chicago, Quenchers Saloon on the corner of Western and Fullerton. Wereworm and Radiant Republic of Texas are playing too, which officially makes the lineup unfuckwithable.

Speaking of amazing record release shows, i spent this past Friday night losing my goddamn mind thanks to a downright transcendant set by Milwaukee's own Elusive Parallelograms--obviously the second-place finisher in tonight's geometry-band-name throwdown, but never mind that. Friday night's Cactus Club show saw the release of their own new EP, the six-song Habits, a deliriously trippy sixteen minutes of psychedelic Built to Spill-flavored indie rock that easily cements the Parallelograms as one of Milwaukee's most crucially underrated bands (despite a surprisingly healthy turnout for the release show).

The not-so-secret weapon of the EP sound is their interweaving triple-guitar attack--seemingly competing lead lines that, much like Nonagon's vocals, seem like they should logically clash but fit together like the weave of a gauzy, enveloping blanket of blissed-out fuzz, occasionally locking into unison for glorious riffs like the BtS-biting "Collapse" (which i swear is actually lifted from a Built to Spill song, but i can't for the life of me track it down, and it is driving me insane. Comment if you can clue me in).

I've been seeing Elusive Parallelograms do their thing in the Borg Wards and Cactus Clubs of Milwaukee for several years now, and, real talk: i've seen them be excellent, and i've seen them at their shambolic, trainwreck worst, their fate generally decided by the inebriation level of their now-former drummer. The band that took the stage on Friday with now-exiting second drummer Eric Reiter was an assured, confident force of screaming slide guitar, airy vocals, and a solidly locked-in rhythm section (despite a misbehaving bass drum that at one point turned so far to one side that Reiter was sitting on his floor tom in order to keep the beat going). It may have been the fact that i had two Spotted Cows on an empty stomach, but it took a lot of restraint on my part to not hug guitarist Stefan Dostanic and go completely fanboy on him. Seeing a Milwaukee band grow from a shaky cauldron of occasional brilliance and occasional disaster to a fully-functional and tightly-wound machine of still-loose, pure room-filling vibe is a thrilling thing to behold, and i'm damn proud of these guys and the killer set of tunes they just unleashed.

Both releases from Elusive Parallelograms and Nonagon can be streamed at Bandcamp, so stop reading my purple prose and make your own judgment call.


  1. Nice review, DJ!

    N.B.: RRoT is now known simply as Radiant Republic.

  2. We played with them in 2009 in Cleveland when they were definitely "at their shambolic, trainwreck worst." Now, with your seal of approval looking forward to seeing them again.

    1. you gonna make it out in madison on saturday?

  3. Elusive absolutely killed it. bright lights and fuzzed out madness!

  4. a video for the kiddies

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