On An On

ON AN ON
Give In (Roll Call Records, January 29th 2013)

Sometime in the spring of 2012 the musicians that would go on to form the Chicago & Minneapolis based trio ON AN ON found themselves at a tipping point. The three of them—Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing—had played music with one another in various capacities for the better part of a decade. Most recently, they had shared the stage and studio as three fifths of the indie-pop outfit Scattered Trees, which had seen its fair share of success. But with the band's studio time only a few weeks away and the other members now spread out across the country pursuing other endeavors, they would chart their own course and come out stronger for it. What emerged was ON AN ON.

For ON AN ON, the precariousness of breaking new ground only three weeks before recording with accomplished producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals, Los Campesinos!) provided a jolt of creative energy. The musicians had become disenchanted with their past approach to songwriting and recording, finding the process of striving for polished pop both tiresome and constrained. Newfeld proved the perfect counterpart to their initial vision for the record, encouraging them to push boundaries and go with their instincts.

According to Eiesland, the sessions were something of an exorcism: "We really wanted to get away from the sterility of our previous approach to recording." Eieseland, Ricci, and Estwing embraced musical risks that in the past it might have shied away from. In the studio, the band members explored a natural chemistry and honed their sound; synthesizers, scattershot electro beats and ambient ear candy gave guitars, bass and drums a ghostly sheen.

While the melodies might clue one in to the trio's evolved sonic palate, it's through the album's themes that the group member's respective evolution becomes most apparent. Eiesland wrote the majority of the lyrics, in the process coming to terms with death and the traps that life springs upon us. Whether letting his intuition guide him on "I Wanted To Say More" ("You are a saint and you're the devil/Every word I spoke to you, I thought that they were wings/ But they were only feathers") or owning up to life's inevitability on "All The Horses" ("A family tree will split in two halfway through its life"), there's a tempered calm to the thought-provoking imagery he espouses through his words. Estwing offered up his own lyrical séance on his lead vocal track "Cops," although the bassist says his message—that the police can be surprisingly corrupt—is more direct.

After smashing everything they knew to pieces, they pulled themselves together around Give In, ON AN ON's ten-track debut album – a dream-washed textural journey armed with a biting perspective on life, love, and the commonality of loss. It is an affair that sizzles with electricity and calls one in with its unnerved openness.

Hands can be so many things: welcoming, scolding, loving, clenched into a fist. With Hands as your name, you have to both capture emotion and prove that the music you create with your own is worthy of the moniker. Luckily these Hands are up to the challenge.

Hands makes music like a rip tide, swirling in overlapping loops and riffs, slowly enveloping you. The group’s members – Geoff Halliday, Ryan Sweeney, Sean Hess and Alex Staniloff – craft their hypnotic sound from a single dropping note that builds into a reverberating roar that crashes over you like a wave. It’s a mesmerizing trick that they pull off on their debut LP, Synesthesia. Building off the success of their Massive Context EP (Small Plates) released in 2012 and a 7” to be released on White Iris in January, songs like “Videolove” and “Trouble” show Hands’ innate ability to blend instruments and electronics into a deep texture that moves ethereally through genres. Hands moves from rock to synth-pop to skyrocketing stadium anthem, often within the same song. The interplay of Sweeney’s esoteric guitar riffs, Hess’ technical tempos, Staniloff’s thumping bass and Halliday’s soaring vocals and affected keyboards help Hands build a dynamic atmosphere, where a lesser band would only manage empty atmospherics.

A relative newcomer to the LA scene, Hands began as a two-piece from Philadelphia before Halliday and Sweeney headed west and added the low and thump of Hess and Staniloff. The band made a mark on the scene immediately, quickly playing packed shows across the country including stops at SXSW, CMJ and Deluna Fest, headlining Echo Park Rising, sessions with Daytrotter, and a west coast jaunt with Maps and Atlases. Hands’ ability to win over fans with their feverish live show and dance-party-ready sound has already earned them opening spots for the likes of Deerhoof, DeVotchKa, Foster the People, and Kimbra as well as playing shows to sold out crowds at venues across LA.

For now, Hands’ graceful and danceable indie rock is still under the radar, as evidenced by their spot in TIME Magazine’s “11 Bands You Don’t Know (But Should)” List, but they are quickly rising to the surface, bringing their melodies and thumping beats with them. Over the past year, Hands has built a devoted following for their evolving palette of sounds, soaring melodies, and complex looping song structures. With overwhelming responses to first listens of the record and Hands hitting the road for most of 2013, surely this is the year that Hands will start to make waves. Big big waves



Zhora was created in 2011 by vocalist Taylor Rea.

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On An On with Hands, ZHORA

Tuesday, September 17 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Three Links

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