Last summer, Pennsylvania indie-pop punk act NONA self-released their debut album, Through the Head. Full of fuzzy guitars and catchy hooks, NONA made some small waves around the scene, but ultimately the band seemed to be relegated to b-status, possibly due to the fact that any mention of the band in press releases or reviews was almost always accompanied by the reminder that drummer Pat Ware used to play in the then-disbanded Spraynard (which, of course, would then set off comment threads reminiscing about and comparing the band to Spraynard).
That’s not to say that NONA didn’t turn any heads at all, because they certainly caught the attention of the fine folks over at 6131 Records (current and former home to acts such as Dads, Touché Amoré, Backtrack, Rotting Out, and more). They scooped up NONA in late 2013, and now, a full year after it’s original release, they’ve gone and re-released Through the Head. All of this says that maybe all NONA needs is a little boost to get their name out from underneath that Spraynard-sized shadow. The re-release of Through the Head boasts a remastering courtesy of Defeater’s Jay Maas, and brand new artwork, but at its core it’s still the fantastic power pop gem that it was before.
Unfortunately, the major downside to this re-release is that it doesn’t contain a whole lot of goodies for anyone who caught the album when it originally came out. Audiophiles might rejoice at the new mixes, but for the most part this re-release is really for the folks who missed the train the first time around. Imagine if Lemuria or Cheap Girls never polished their respective sounds and continued to push out lo-fi pop hooks left and right with the distortion turned all the way up, and you’ve got an idea of what to expect from this album. Even the mostly-acoustic title track manages to keep the lo-fi charm through the use of plenty of percussion to back up the sole guitar before the band goes out on one final blast of energy.
Everyone has their own rules for making their Album of the Year lists come December. Some people keep it pretty simple, while others like to separate different types of releases in order to better reflect their year in terms of music. For those of you who do the latter and enjoy loud, fuzzy pop music: Through the Head will make the top five in your “Best re-release” or “Best album of 2013 that I missed out on” sub-categories. I’m sure of it.
4 / 5 – Listen below!
RIYL: Cheap Girls, Superchunk, Lemuria