Bay Area nerd-pop kings ascend a new summit.
I am disturbed and yet enthused by this San Francisco band's second longform disc. The nerd-geek impulse in rock, to rock, is nothing new, stretching all the way back to Buddy Holly and also given life by everyone from the Feelies to Jonathan Richman (the man infamously dubbed "The Wimp King" by no less than Lester Bangs). Certainly it has been an ongoing tradition manifest in San Francisco for awhile, with local groups like the Zip Code Rapists, Icky Boyfriends and Three Day Stubble kicking out the pocket protector jams. More recently, the confluence of clubs like the Parkside and Hemlock Tavern (and the newly, lamentably shuttered Eagle Tavern) with groups like Nodzzz -- along with the likes of Sic Alps, Hunx and His Punx, Ty Segall, and the various projects led by John Dwyer -- has created a rudely flourishing alternative music scene that would have made Bill Graham cower in his apple free-bin at the Fillmore.
Make no mistake going in to Innings, Nodzzz's stock-in-trade is the polar opposite of alpha-male knuckledrag rock. Beta male? Omega male? Whatever it is, the Nodzzz mob fall solidly into such a category. Theirs, as stated above, is a highstrung rock noise that's perhaps nothing new and certainly not for everyone. But for those inclined, it's a gleeful, cheeky and surprisingly melodic noise indeed. Among the subjects covered on Innings: "giving respect" to old clothes, girls named Peggy Sue, a lyric that boldly namechecks several Springsteen songs, and dislike of advice from shrinks "with the wisdom of a desk", before finally signing off with the offering of perfectly reasonable advice: "If you ain't got a soul or spirit, no one will come near it...'" Near the corner of California and Baker Streets in San Francisco's well-off Pacific Heights district, someone has engraved Nodzzz's name into the sidewalk. Nodzzz has a new album out, called Innings. Those who read this who can't easily experience the former are encouraged to do so with the latter.