by Louis Marrone (@LouisJ_Marrone)
If you’re a music lover living on Long Island, then chances are you’ve come in contact with it’s thriving hardcore/pop-punk scene. Anyone who fancies the likes of The Wonder Years, All Time Low or Of Mice & Men will not be disappointed in the main course that many local venues have to offer. While there is nothing wrong with all this, in a sense it’s arguably given the illusion that the island doesn’t have much of an alternative option to it. When people discuss the coastal spots for indie, DIY, experimental, rap, etc, Long Island doesn’t even come to mind. Frankly, given the circumstances, who could blame them?
However despite all that, deep below the surface exists it’s own DIY community that wears their influences on their sleeves while maintaining an authentic integrity. They don’t have big numbers or even high production value in some cases, but the artistic merit and perspective still lives on nevertheless. Take Blood Lake, a shoegaze jam band that has drops of My Bloody Valentine mixed into it’s custom lo-fi, hazy sound; or Evan Frawley, a solo artist who’s generally minimal production and humorous yet emotional lyricism creates a bitter-sweet water hole of millennial suburbanite musings.
Nazca Plate is an interesting new addition, having released their latest EP All Fingers Point To The Moon this past October. ‘Nazca,’ through their best efforts, sounds as though they’ve emerged out of an Ovlov-ian primordial soup-- an underground bunker where it’s eccentric inhabitants were forced to concoct an act after being subjected to Minutemen’s Double Nickels on The Dime on repeat. Luckily, this is meant in all the best ways. Nazca Plate’s sound-- their essence-- is fast-paced grunge filtered through a lo-fi net. This is shown through a barrage of elements; Drummer Max Hanks stays in a seemingly meditative, subconscious state as he drums with on the bubble precision, rapid speed and intense bravado. Vocalist and guitarist Logan Brennan’s performance on both aforementioned fronts combines mid-tempo vocals with staticky filters and rough yet deep seeded, all-out guitar audio. The abstract yet expressive lyricism doesn’t hurt either.
When you first look into Nazca Plate, you get the sense that the band isn’t taking things uber seriously, as evident by things like their Twitter account-- where context free ponderings like “Myyyy tooooongue tuuuuuurned blaaaaaaack” and “sold th xbox 4 dope” are scattered throughout. This playful, “weird-twitter” esq nature is only exemplified by the bandmates prior history as GME-- a locally noted meme-based band that stood and fell by the potency of its own secreted irony. At the same time, they aren’t clowns. Putting jokes aside, when you see them virtually, a love for the grimier 80s punk and alternative music and aesthetics is on full display. Their flyers are a throwback to the ones for acts like Minor Threat or Daniel Johnston. To put it simply, ‘Nazca’s’ presence plays just as much of a role in the band as the music. It all plays into a much larger artistic concept.
Nevertheless, the band’s musical ambition is nothing to sneeze at. Throughout the al.bum, tracks-- such as the EP’s titular track-- display the might and will power to break through the barriers that the seemingly limited resources they possess pose to them. They seem larger than they actually are. The listeners introduction to the band puts a lot of eggs into a single basket. The opening track, “Fake Cowboy” gets right into that whammo-blammo shit-- highlighting drummer Hanks’ ecstatic and sporadic skills and featuring lead singer Brennan yelping with a faux country accent. It’s high energy and loud-- and in a general sense, it sets up what is to further come throughout the rest of the EP. However, those expectations are shortly subverted with the following song “Turnover.” Songs like this show a certain versatility within the band. In a sense the song can be seen as a tribute to the band of the same name; they both share a similar warm sound with a cool atmosphere. Both share lyrics with a sentimental charm to them. Added onto that, the band’s experiment carries on with the plights of a down to earth mid-eighties shoegaze garage act.
The remainder of the EP bounces back and thrashes it’s way to the finish line. The following six songs feature a consistent yet abstract variety of neo-grunge and punk. Nazca’s strengths lie primarily within their instrumentation. As mentioned throughout, the four of them have significant talent. Aside from Hanks and Brennan’s bass/guitar and drum skills, guitarist Zach Marino carries the rhythms throughout each of the songs, allowing for a smooth mixture. The bands lyricism is also wonderfully abstract and filled with an interesting personality.
Where the EP may fall flat is within the production, if you’ve ever listened to the original 2011 release of Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy, you’ll know the feeling. The mixing is good, but the actual audio quality is a bit rough and rudimentary at its core. The band’s high standards for scope and scale are there, but struggle to be held up by the equipment used to capture the sounds themselves. This is something most likely out of the bands control, as this is a purely DIY release/recording, but nevertheless, it may serve as a turnoff when trying to absorb the music on a full level.
With All Fingers Point To The Moon, Nazca Plate gives a certain hope to the greater Long Island scene. There isn’t much variety on the Island at the moment, but what little there is really needs to be seen and highlighted more. Because-- fuck music-- ANY art scene in general is made stronger by a diversity in sound and talent. But that is also only able to reach its full potential if the support system of listeners and journalists give them their due. Beyond any nitpicks, Nazca brings a throwback sound with an original spin with their latest release. As they continue forward in their artistic endeavors, one can only hope they can at the very least get some minutes of fame.