Even though it may seem like they’re a new band because they’re releasing their debut album next month, Nonagon have been togther for the better part of this millenium. Instead of cranking out albums right away, they’ve built a following in their hometown of Chicago the old-fashioned, punk rock way: releasing singles and EPs while playing shows and building a sense of community around the band.
The three members of the band, Robert Wm. Gomez (Bass), John Hastie (Guitar, Vox) and Tony Aimone (Drums) felt that they had finally landed on a set of songs that fit together cohesively and in their words, “showcases what we’ve been reaching for.” The band’s debut LP They Birds will be out on March 3 and after releasing the debut single “Hack” last week, we’re excited to premiere a second track from the album, “Jeff(s).”
It’s pretty obvious from listening to just a few seconds of They Birds that the members of Nonagon are heavily influenced by ’90s post-hardcore, bands like Jawbox, Shellac, Drive Like Jehu and June of 44 (they even have a song called June of ’14 on the new album). The songs feature riffs that are somehow simultaneously dischordant and earworms, the rhythm section is loud and unafraid to veer into off-kilter time-signatures and the vocals range from shout-along verses to soaring choruses, which is where their J. Robbins influence really shines through.
That being said, while there are tons of bands that carry these influences it’s rare to find a band with the authenticity, passion and originality of Nonagon. They don’t just ape these influences, instead they build on them and show there can be a future for this style of music that peaked in the mid-to-late ’90s.
The song opens up with a stuttering, pounding drum beat followed by a somersaulting guitar riff full of hammer-ons that disintegrates into something a little more slinky and sinister right before its pulse-pounding verse. Gomez sings on this song and his vocals in the chorus are pure punk shout-along and the melodic chorus could be an outtake from For Your Own Special Sweetheart. Then they jump into a quick, mathy-without-trying-too-hard breakdown that incorporates elements of that first guitar riff before repeating the cycle.
“Jeff(s)” is about the pressure of being put on the spot when you’re not sure you have much of anything to say,” said Hastie. “We’re guessing that this is a common sentiment among folks who enjoy performing but don’t want to disappoint a roomful of revellers. This is one of the few songs that bass player Robert Wm. Gomez sings and wrote the lyrics for.”
They Birds track list
1. “Tuck the Long Tail Under”
2. “Slow Boil”
3. “The Family Meal”
6. “Side 2”
7. “June of ’14”
0. “Swing Goat”
11. “The Holdouts”