Rolling the Dice with Pretty & Nice

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Christoper Nelson
Pretty & Nice ( Holden Lewis, Jeremy Mendicino and friends) on my Sofa. You can see them tonight at Neumos.
I first met

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Rolling the Dice with Pretty & Nice

  • Rolling the Dice with Pretty & Nice

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    pretty_web.jpg
    Christoper Nelson
    Pretty & Nice ( Holden Lewis, Jeremy Mendicino and friends) on my Sofa. You can see them tonight at Neumos.
    I first met Pretty & Nice during last year's SXSW festival. They were deep into the promotion of their 2008 release Get Young with a relentless tour schedule leading up to near daily appearances at various showcases and events. Having been turned on to the band by Hardly Art's Nick Heliotis, I invited them over to my Austin digs for an interview, along with some home cooking and a chance to do their laundry.

    The guys pulled up in a mustard colored van with a ketchup red racing stripe, which looked like it could have belonged to the A-Team, (if their wheelman had been Ronald McDonald not B.A. Baracus) carrying pillowcases of laundry and sporting under eye baggage that told just how long they'd been on tour and how many free Lone Stars they'd consumed.

    We chatted while I made them Kabobs, and they took turns adjourning to the shower, and checking on their washables. It made for laid back conversation and a fairly interesting first interview. Plans for it to run however were marred when due to a booking foible, they ended up playing a Seattle DIY performance space so under the radar we were asked not to publicize it.

    Flash forward six months and Pretty & Nice are about to hit Seattle again. This show couldn't be more different, with the band opening tonight at Neumos as part of their national tour with the Get Up Kids and Youth Group. Not a bad turn of events in such a short time, for these Bean Town babies.

    Starting out in Vermont and relocating to Boston 5 years ago, Pretty & Nice have gone through various incarnations as a trio and quartet, with an ever revolving cast of sideman around core members Jeremy Mendicino and Holden Lewis. Their debut Pink and Blue is a piece of kinetically charged punk pop that's reminiscent of the Jam on a sugar high, and featured the single "Get Your Nets" which brought the band to the attention of Seattle's Hardly Art records. Said Heliotis of the band:

    "I think they add a different dimension to the label for sure.  Get Young is definitely a solitary beast in our catalog--certainly stands equally apart from the "campfire punk" of the Dutchess & the Duke, the throwback garage-gospel sound of the Moondoggies and the indie-pop tribalism of Le Loup.  But that, of course, is one of the things that I love about working at Hardly Art--we are in the wonderful position of putting out whatever records we are excited about.  No single sound defines what we do, and I think Pretty & Nice are a great example of that".

    Get Young Pretty & Nice's latest, is more of a new wave tribute to art pop with the band's rougher side taking a back seat. Each song plays like a shaken champagne bottle with a loosened cork, letting off a foreboding hiss of punk just below the surface that could explode at any time. That eruption never really comes to fruition however, which maybe the record's biggest down fall. If Get Young suffers from anything, it's over tinkering. Pretty & Nice seem to have fallen into the trap of many self-produced bands who in a effort to control their own process loose sight of the benefits a set of unbiased ears can offer. Get Young excels however in its hook heavy, reverently British song craftsmanship. P&N are experts at creating ear worms that stick with you long after a single listen.

    The record also serves as bit of contradiction to the band's stellar and much applauded live show which is of near spastic in it's energy level. Lewis and Mendicino artfully exchange vocal duties from one song to the next bouncing off each other and the crowd in a kinetic frenzy. This interaction plays powerfully in a small club setting but will present some challenges, as this tour with the Get Up kids puts the band in it's biggest venues to date.

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    Can't sleep...Clowns will eat them... Two shows ago, this creepy little thing mysteriously appeared in the Pretty & Nice van....
    When I caught up with Lewis via cell phone on the way to the bands gig in Salt Lake City, he told me that things have gotten off on a successful note drinking beer and playing dice games late into the night with their new tour mates after their first show together. Having lived hand to mouth on the road over the last few years, the band still posts excitedly on their blog about backstage areas filled with "pizza and Rockstar". Lewis also pointed out this is their first experience dealing with the more professional aspects of life on the road, like stringent schedules and tour mangers. But it seems these boys had better get used to it, as things are looking as pretty and nice as their name implies.
     
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