“Every one of us reverberates between the ebb and flow of pain and emptiness, jubilation, after glow from fornication.” ~ Nook & Cranny, “Never Again”
Sure, Gainesville’s warmly sinister porch-folk band Nook & Cranny reminds me of such keystone traditionalists as Laura Cantrell and Austin Lucas and Waller and Ollabelle–but for the sake of a less lame review, let’s argue that they have much more in common with seminal San Pedro CA hardcore fellas The Minutemen.
The commonality is that their individual parts are incredible, and the sum of their parts is harmonious, but still so tense that the listener really has no idea how those parts make that whole. In The Minutemen, bassist Mike Watt and guitarist D. Boone were self-taught originals, playing to their instincts, whereas drummer George Hurley played far-out jazz patterns unheard in punk. They never really seemed to be playing along with each other, and they never stood still long enough to verify it, but their individual outputs just aligned so perfectly with each other’s that you couldn’t question how practiced they were at arriving at the same place.
Sometimes it seems that each member of Nook & Cranny is doing his/her own thing on stage. They don’t have a drummer and their lead guitarist is a dobroist. Singer Dana Meyers looses her voice from a wide, commanding stance, beating the band’s only percussion, her tambourine, against her thigh while her co-vocalist Mark Archer stands with his feet pinned tight together, seemingly on the verge of toppling as he flurries away at his hip-height dobro. But their vocal harmonies, usually three or four parts, are unassailable. Bassist Brian Turk and acoustic guitarist Scott Ashcraft are true anchors. Fiddler Andrew Cook slips between the fore- and background of songs like a staircase in an Escher lithograph. They’re a beautiful bottomless tumbler of a band that never lets its drunk get sloppy.
Nook & Cranny was recorded under the aegis of one of Gainesville’s most significant engineers, Rob McGregor. The band is releasing the record itself. Also, they say “fuck” and “shit” and this album is straight gangster. Hence the EXPLICIT warning. Another warning: ESSENTIAL.