The latest release from the New Jersey/New York based duo of Thom Soriano and David Nagler, collectively known as Nova Social, For any Inconvenience bleeds in with the pulse of a busy signal on the track “The Hard Part” before breaking into full goth-club drums and squiggly-synth lines, letting you know exactly what to expect for the next 40 minutes.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the band has released the album on a beautifully packaged, colored 12” via their website, because we’re going back to the 80s. Well, maybe that’s not fair. There’s more going on here than jagged dance-pop about seeing a girl at the club you hope to pluck from the floor and take home to make her your own.
“The Hard Part” sees Nagler aware that he’s had it easy up until now, and he’s resigned that the good old days are gone. Change and harsh memories of those days bubble up throughout the album: whether it’s taunting the namesake of “Martin” into giving him a beating or spitting venom at a floozy in “Drunk at the Prom.” Maybe the good old days weren’t that great after all.
Other tracks are less sunny. “The Delano” is a hypnotic track about a day’s long hotel fling down by the seaside that is rudely interrupted by management, prying the couple out of the room because they can’t afford the bill. “Company Car” has the panicked-fidgety feel of wondering what a girl is up to and hoping it’s not as bad as what is in your head.
“A Boxer’s Wedding” is a bouncy track about, well, a boxer getting married. He’s washed up, past his prime, and all he has is this girl, nineteen, too fragile for someone like him who is trained to pulverize things, but he’s going for it anyway.
The high point of the album is “The Star.” On the band’s website, Nagler explains the song was influenced by W, or the Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec—his experiences growing up in Paris during the outbreak of the Nazi occupation. It’s the last song on the first side of the album, and it feels like a big deep breath after the consistent gear-buzz of the earlier tracks. There’s some space to float while the song gently wades along.
Why did you guys decide to release the new album on vinyl?
Thom: The very first Nova Social release was a colored vinyl 7” of songs that would end up on the first proper NS album back in 2002. We also released a self-titled EP on 12” vinyl in late 2009. David and I are both part record collector and part people who never lost their preference for listening to music on vinyl.
All the things that make records special – larger art, space for liner notes and lyrics, the promise of an actual album-length listening experience with a crafted first half/flip break/second half – really define the act of listening to music for us. (Also – there is nothing like dropping the needle on a test pressing of your forthcoming record. Trust us, other bands.) We’re not Luddites by any stretch, but music belongs on vinyl. We acknowledge that iPods are easy to listen to; we refuse, however, to apologize for any inconvenience.
Your album is very dance-floor oriented. How did that play in with the mixing and mastering of your digital files? Was it a challenge to get that sound on wax?
David: The rhythmic components to For Any Inconvenience were crucial to keep in mind during the mixing, though we definitely weren’t taking into account how well the record would fare in dance clubs or anything.
The record is not unlike most previous Nova Social recordings, in that we tend to be maximalists in our approach, and our good friend/mixing engineer D. James Goodwin has always been wonderful at making everything sit comfortably in the mix. We also worked with our long time mastering engineer Fred Kevorkian, who started out mastering a lot of dance records, so he was happy to return to his roots, to a degree.
Talk about the beautiful packaging. What influenced the bold reds and blacks?
Thom: Around the time the final track listing was coming together we rigged up a bunch of these odd fiber optic light fixtures and put together the photo shoot that produced all the record’s graphic elements. They seemed just right for this batch of songs – amorphous, explosive, primal and bright.
The thing literally happened where, out of a pile of 200 photos, the record’s front cover was immediately apparent. Red and black have been my favorite colors forever. When I proudly showed one of the first copies of the record to my parents one of them said, “Hey, it looks just like the wood paneling we had in your room when you were little.” Maybe the next album cover will just be a Bay City Rollers poster. Psychology!
The actual disc of For any Inconvenience is one of the most beautiful looking records made in the last few years. Tell me a little about your interest in colored vinyl and what must have been a tough decision for your choice of vinyl coloring and design.
Thom: Designing the actual vinyl wasn’t all that tough, actually. I’d seen and heard some of Pirates Press’s work previously, and when we realized they could press a splatter that complemented the front cover art so perfectly the decision was pretty much made.
My colored vinyl obsession absolutely goes back to my childhood, the main difference being that I have some ‘70s and ‘80s colored pressings that sound like they were manufactured directly onto the back side of a shag carpet. The current ability to press amazing-sounding colored vinyl is pretty much the best thing ever. It definitely lived on in the more DIY punk and indie scenes while boy bands strode the earth and sold a gazillion CDs each, but it’s just fantastic to see new pop and electronic and experimental records on gorgeous slabs of virgin vinyl.
Tell us about some favorite discs in your collection.
David: There was a sidewalk sale several years ago around the corner from my Brooklyn apartment where I was able to pick up a host of near-mint condition late ’70s/early ’80s disco and R&B vinyl LPs and 12″ singles for $1 each: Chic, Change, Quincy Jones, The Brothers Johnson, Teena Marie, Gino Soccio, Musique… the former tenant was likely a DJ.
I bought a number of 12″ singles by The System — who we’re now playing with this week — and I also found the LP of Hot Butterfly by Gregg Diamond’s Bionic Boogie, which I had been seeking out for a couple of years. When I discovered Gregg had a producer/engineer brother named Godfrey who was living in Brooklyn and still recording artists, we immediately sought him out and made his studio our home base for recording vocals and strings.
So, yes, the dance-floor angst of 80s industrial guitar noise and sleek beeps are all here with an updated shine to them, but this isn’t simply a Friday night dance-pop album to grind under the black lights to. Even though you could if you wanted to.
For your chance to win an autographed copy of Nova Social’s For Any Inconvenience, tell us about your favorite vinyl record from childhood in the comments section below. Whatever childhood rekkid we deem the best, wins! Go ahead, just try and make our eyes all misty. We’ll choose one winner a week from today, 10/3.
Nova Social performs Friday, September 28th at 9pm at Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street between 3rd and 4th Ave., Brooklyn, NY with Ice Choir and the System.