They’re bass-heavy. They’re untamed. They’re groovy. They’re rebellious. They’re a band that sounds like Wavves if Wavves covered a Jesus Lizard album. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s a band called Nervous from Oakland, California. A band made up of only three – but a very credible three at that. They have members Jake Spek (as you may have seen or listened to with his work in Loma Prieta), Jacob Harris (as you may have seen or listened to with his work in Acid Fast), and an absolute monster of a bass player Conrad Nichols (who I haven’t seen or listened to prior to this project) in their arsenal. Their guns are ablazin’ as they tear into their gritty, lo-fi-esque blast of an EP.
Their self-titled release from 2013 had more variation back and forth between genre influences, and I feel like it was because they were unsure of their sound. I could be way off, but it doesn’t matter, because their new EP Duration and Delusion is fucking stupendous. A firework of quaking rage presented in a mannerly fashion begins with the first squeal of noise in “The Future” and doesn’t stop spewing colored flame until the last drop of “Nostalgia and Expiration” has been wrung from the rag of blood, sweat, and tears it leaves you with.
The beginning of “The Future” has that little spurt before going into a smashing tizzy of bass riffs big and fierce enough to be used as wrecking balls. The hollering vocals that Jake supplies match perfectly and create the chaotic kind of wonderful harmony that makes punk such an outstanding genre. The feeling of walls being built instrumentally while Spek goes in with the sledgehammer of his throat and breaks it all down, yelling “In the future! In the future! In the future!” before it spirals off into a lead that plays into the next song.
“Lapse” is that next song. A noisy craze about energy wasted on senseless activities and beings. Slightly buried vocals beneath the earthen layer of punk compositional gold crashing through thoughts of reality checks and the things you just can’t conquer. It’s thoroughly anxious and angry with string bends and slaps that leave your skin singing.
A resonant and melancholy beginning to “Breathing & Choking” is abruptly halted by the fast and hollering vocals Jake continuously delivers. A spewed verse or two and a break of grunge-like reverb and delay with a spoken part takes place before going into a beachy punk splash and closing out the longest track on the EP.
“The Break” is the fourth song in the release, and has the most accentuated vocals of any track. A repetitive mantra of sorts for not wanting to fall apart but “cracking… cracking… cracking… cracking… like I want it… like I want it…” and not understanding why things have to happen the way they do. Sweeping bass and guitar working in tandem with a crisp bass drum makes the song a dangerously strong march toward self-destruction.
”Yearly” has a guitar track at its center that hits the delay pedal and hits your heart in waves. Quiet, nearly mumbled words spilling out on top of one another beneath a guitar alarm sounding and circling itself inside of your mind. The danger seems unavoidable and “I can’t take the suspense” of it setting off internal alarms as well. Short little spasms of stronger and raw instrumentals take the spotlight at specific points and make it a type of interlude that holds its own as a song.
Without any hesitation, the last song kicks it into fifth gear in milliseconds. Going zero to one hundred and banging its way “around! around! around!” before you realize what that crashing is inside of your skull. The type of vocals toward the middle that make me think the vocalist is slowly losing his mind because of the almost echo a backup vocalist provides. It’s so great to get that nearly creeped out feeling while the instruments are pushing and provoking you further toward this figure of uncertainty and anxiety and turmoil. This song is “Nostalgia and Expiration” and seems to channel every previous effort of the EP into one umbrella for a very wonderful expiration of time with your listen… until you start it again.
Overall, this album is composed of a lot of bass carrying the tracks but it is absolutely in the best way imaginable. It’s a showcase for Mr. Nichols and it’s such a wonderful EP all around that I couldn’t imagine it any other way but this Nervous-delivered way. There are those summery riffs just in time for fall, the vocals that seem more one-on-one and therapeutic as a yelling/talking style, and – though there aren’t breakdowns in this EP in the typical fashion – compellingly thrashing instrumentals. The band is just as furious, in your face, and even heavy edgewise without the traditional breakdowns, anyway. There’s that perfect accent of noise, and that perfect amount of political controversy to start arguments on the internet about. Six songs of public anger and mental indecency covered by Nervous energy that makes me super stoked on what they could possibly have up their sleeves for their next release.
Duration and Delusion is out October 23rd on Twelve Gauge and Turbulent Records.