Nurses - Hangin' Nothing But Our Hands Down
Release Date - June 6, 2007
Record Label: Sargent House
People always say “you should never judge a book by its cover”, and for the most part that adage is true, except in the case of the Chicago based quartet Nurses. The artwork on their gatefold display case is a picture of a spray painting they made onto sheets of newspaper with their name written in cardboard cutout letters, but the visual stimulation does not end there. Upon opening of Hangin‘ Nothing But Our Hands Down, if the listener looks inside the front flap they will find perhaps the smallest lyrical booklet they have ever seen, but fear not because the band was gracious enough to include a miniature magnifying glass to aid your reading efforts. By now you are probably rolling your eyes and shaking your head and thinking, “who cares about the packaging?! I want to know what the music sounds like, and this guy is babbling on about the packaging which has nothing to do with the music whatsoever!”. But au contraire, it has everything to do with the music. The bands seemingly random yet creative artwork is a reflection of the band’s sound; the songs seem haphazardly assorted and vastly different at first, but closer listening unmasks an odd cohesiveness.
Nurses waste no time unveiling their knack for creating engaging yet quirky indie rock songs with “Alone At Last” , a song where the vocals oscillate between a more high-pitched vocal delivery that sounds like a friendlier Blood Brothers impersonation and Aaron Chapman’s more frequently used debonair croon. “He Gots” immediately jumps out at the listener because it finds the band deviating from their off-kilter indie rock sound and stepping outside of the proverbial box. Chapman’s mournful vocals fit eerily well over the accordion, his only accompaniment for this track. An accordion centered song may sound like the worst idea in the history of music, but oddly Nurses are able to not only pull it off, they make it fit comfortably within the context of their more listener-friendly tracks. The band quickly regain their momentum with “Hungry Mouth” and “Wait For A Safe Sign”. “Wait For A Safe Sign” is easily one of the most enjoyable songs on the album and one that would be readily accepted by the indie crowd. Inventive percussion, more prominent piano melodies, and hushed yet experimental guitar work make this track a standout when coupled with Chapman’s cryptic lyrics.
“Way Up High” is another one of the band’s more experimental works, driven primarily by light percussion and piano with the occasional slide whistle thrown in for measure. Usually actions like this warrant me to throw out all sorts of statements on pretentiousness, but somehow it fits in with Nurses overall experimentation and occasional detour into show tunes inspired melodies. “It Came In A Flash” is a much more straightforward song for the band adhering strictly to a more driving and angular indie sound, and focusing considerably more on the guitars. Besides “Wait For A Safe Sign”, this is one of my favorite tracks on the album and I wish I could have seen more of this style employed on the record.
Hangin’ Nothing But Our Hands Down is an adventurous debut album filled with creativity and talent that is not only stirring up a buzz in the indie world, but has also garnered some attention from MTV and AOL. This album is one of the most impressive debut efforts I have heard in quite some time and it will be interesting to see how this band progresses throughout their career. Hopefully this often homeless band, that essentially lives on the road, will get the respect and admiration they so rightfully deserve for crafting one of 2007’s better albums.
I recently heard about this band and I was extremely surprised by what I heard. Still need to get the album in its entirety though. Great review by the way and I'm happy to see them get yet some more exposure.
i remember seeing these guys open for finch a while back. great band.
Yeah, Randy (ex-Finch) loves these guys. They used to go by another name and I still remember when they originally changed to their name to Nurses. Their sound has completely changed since then but only for the better.
I have to agree with just about everyone here in its quirky yet hugely appealing sound being a major hit with me and every single person I have turned this band onto. If they don't get big next year, I might just loose all faith in the music industry.
great review for an absolutely fantastic and unique band, I wish I lived on the east coast to see them on tour with RX Bandits. and i love the little magnifying glass in their cd, it's nice to see someone care about artwork on their albums in a world of digital downloads!