Nethers (Free Dirt)


Folk revivalists like Devendra Banhart and the Elephant Six bands have headed up a rebirth of '60s psychedelia in millennial indie rock. D.C.-based band Nethers crafts its own brand of stripped-down psychedelia, taking acoustic freak-folk and distilling it down to a minimalist sound that pairs feedback and white noise with vibrant indie pop. It's no surprise, then, that the band brought on Los Angeles producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Dinosaur Jr., Silver Jews) to record its new album, What the Wind Will Never Say.

What makes Nethers stand out is the group's ability to oscillate smoothly from what can be a rather coarse form of acid-folk to some of the brightest, happiest '60s-era sunshine tunes you can find. "Espirit de Nethers," the record's opening track, is the album's most highly orchestrated and produced piece. The song features a whirl of repetitive strings, acoustic and electric guitars. But what gives the track its strength is its ever-driving bass drum kick and simple tambourine slap. The song also features a healthy dose of feedback and scratching violins not unlike fingernails on a blackboard, both of which add to the song's darker, gloomy vibe. However, the following track, "Three Hearts," proves cheerful and sunny, allowing lead singer Nikki West to shine with impossibly high melodies and lyrics about "summer's delight." The jarring about-face in tone strengthens an album that already survives more on overall mood than on standout tracks.

Nethers rose from the ashes of D.C. band the Carlsonics. A few years ago, the group retreated to Nethers, VA and, after some time, emerged a completely different band. Ditching garage-punk and indie-rock for psychedelia, the band underwent a full transformation. One of the key changes for the band has been the passing of lead singing duties from Aaron Carlson to West. Nethers takes its name and much of its musical inspiration from the country setting of its central Virginia escape.

-Conor McKay, NPR MUSIC

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