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Parking lots aside, this local band is rocking solid
IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE I feel compelled to say that my very first meeting with the Nim Nims did not go so well. It wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t my fault. It was really the fault of the loud-mouthed fraudulent promoter/restaurateur who had triple-booked the venue that night while promising each band at least four times as much as any venue that size could have reasonably paid. It seems none of us had learned the, “If it sounds too good to be true” maxim yet.
My band rolled in to the crowded parking lot. The parking lot was crowded mainly because of the other two bands unloading THEIR equipment. Inquiries were made, opinions exchanged and shortly thereafter we left to do an impromptu show at The Local Performance Hall. I don’t know if the Nim Nims toughed it out at the original venue that night or went their own way, but for a short while thereafter whenever I heard mention of the band I would think, “Oh, those guys…”
That was wrong of me, of course; they hadn’t tried to beat us out of a gig, they had been given the same line of rectally administered smoke we had. Fortunately, it wasn’t very long before we wound up playing at the same festival and I actually got to hear them. I was so impressed with the performance I finally realized my lingering resentment was entirely misplaced.
After the gig, I related this story and offered my most heartfelt apologies and sincere respect and appreciation for their art. As I was drinking more in those days it is entirely likely that I delivered that monologue to a denim jacket hanging on the back of a chair—but it’s the thought that counts, after all.
All of this brings us to the matter at hand: the Nim Nims’ most recent album, Baristas, Fashionistas and Mother Teresas. There are nine tracks on this album and not a weak one in the bunch. The entire album is rock solid and covers a lot of ground, musically speaking.
The opening track, “Recognition” is an acoustic anthem, a tribute to the underappreciated that evokes overtones of Damien Rice and the singer/songwriter genre as a whole. I’m not going to try and interpret it here; that’s the listener’s privilege, but I feel certain that the tune is a deeply personal one drawn from real-life experience.
Track Two is “Found,” a dreamy and trance-like love song that begins with a simple droning repetition, quickly stacking layer upon layer until it climaxes in a lush wall of sound (and a cigarette, most likely). There is no mimicry in the tune but one suspects that at least one member of the band is a fan of Elliott Smith.
Track Three, “A Time or Two,” is a departure from the more somber tone of the first two cuts, replete with a brass section and a punchy rhythm. It’s a downright jaunty tune, the sort of thing you might hum to yourself while strolling down the sidewalk in spring— earworm material to be sure.
Since I’ve already played “guess the influence” with the other two tracks, I may as well go ahead and say that this tune reminded me so much of Del Amitri I had to go back and listen to that one song they had in 1995.
It is with Track Three that you first realize what the unifying thread is with the music of the Nim Nims. Each track is brilliant in its own right, but each track is so stylistically different you might not guess it was the same band. That isn’t a slight—I say it with the utmost respect—it’s a testament to the flexibility and creativity of the band. Regardless of instrumentation or influence or approach, the one thing you can count on in every Nim Nims songs is clever, well-written lyrics.
It’s no secret I’m a “words” kind of guy. I’ll take strong lyrics over anything else every time, and the Nim Nims deliver in spades with lyrics that are catchy and clever; poignant without being heavy-handed.
“I was a hipster, you were a hippie” may not sound like the opening of a literary masterpiece, but the tune goes on to paint a familiar and charming picture of twenty-somethings struggling for identity while awkwardly going through the motions in coffee shops, campuses and bars. In less skilled hands, this would be a cliché, but the boys breathe life into it so that I would dare anyone “of a certain age” to hear it and NOT smile wistfully. Perhaps it takes another 20 years of living to appreciate the wonder of being 20, but the band has genuinely captured a slice of life in this track.
There are six more tracks on this album, and I have run out of time and space to tell you how great they all are, so I suppose it is hackneyed metaphor time. It is like a box of chocolates, minus the god-awful coconut-filled travesties. You never know what you’re going to get, but every track is a winner.
Overall the album has (to me) a very ’90s feel, and that isn’t a bad thing at all. The ’90s produced some truly phenomenal music, and I suspect that the boys in the band drew some inspiration from that period of musical history.
Fortunately for you, dear reader, the Nim Nims are still one of the most popular and active bands in the area, so catching a live show should be no problem. Their discography is widely available online. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what they do next.