Blonder Captures the Unpretentious Spirit of ’90s Indie Rock
Blonder’s members all lead pretty
normal day-to-day lives. Frontman Matt Nordness is a nurse; drummer and audio
engineer Eric Risser is a mailman; keyboardist and singer Mina Faye is in
medical school; bass player Vince Gaa is a teacher; and guitarist James
Brickner is an engineer. “It helps make our music not forced,” Brickner said of
their outside lives. For them, music is a welcome break from their hectic
lives, and that comes across in their demos as well as in their live
performances, where singer Matt Nordness will switch up lyrics to already
absurd songs to get a rise out of his bandmates.
Throughout Demo’s seven songs set in apartments, alleyways and bars, there are several notable and borderline laugh-out-loud moments. “Skirt” has Nordness singing about spotting a girl at the other end of the bar, “dancin’ with your T-Rex arms / I’ll swing my head to the beat in time with yours.” The music stomps and sways back and forth heavily enough that not imagining a couple dancing like dinosaurs is nearly impossible.
“PT Love Song” is an endearing love
song about phobias and two people trying to keep their shit together in spite
of themselves. “I’m in your kitchen making pizza / Pepperoni pizza! / We’re in
the alley smoking shorts.” And on the short, percussive “Polka Dot,” the verses
are a whirlwind of great poetic nonsense like “Sparkling olive eyes dance in
the breeze.” It’s all over in just about two minutes.
The skewed humor and guitar tones
are likely to remind listeners of Pavement or other like-minded bands of the
era. Some listeners will instantly hear the Pixies in Nordnesses’ and Faye’s harmonizations.
What’s likely to catch early indie-rock fans and audio gear junkies by surprise
is the group’s utilization of a Craigslist Tascam 388 that sounds like the high
end of lo-fi. It captures the group’s sometimes shoegazey, sometimes-straightforward
Breeders-style pop nicely. Even for an unmastered recording, there’s a lot of
richness and depth, which is especially noticeable compared to many modern
The group is working on a follow up to their demo that’s likely to contain a couple re-recordings of these songs as well as new ones like “Fall Leaves” and “Yellow,” which the band plays at their live performances. For now, though, they’ve released seven tracks that could easily be the soundtrack to a long-awaited Milwaukee springtime.
Blonder plays the Center Street Free Space Tuesday, April 1, with Strange Relations and Stereo Ghost at 7 p.m. Their demo is streaming at blonder.bandcamp.com.