Emerging from underground venues in Chicago’s Northwest side, NE-HI made its name on both its live energy and cleverly wrought guitar anthems. Today, they announce their second album Offers (out 2/24 on Grand Jury), and share the video for their first single, “Stay Young,” directed by Weird Life Films. On Offers, the band takes those basement-forged instincts and refines them; lets its guitars explore new angles, and focuses its songwriting. The result is, we daresay, a stunner if not a statement that there is a wide range of post-punk possibilities yet to be explored.
Born in Chicago’s vibrant DIY scene during the summer of 2013 – specifically within the walls of now-defunct basement venue Animal Kingdom – three friends from college, Jason Balla (guitar/vocals), Mikey Wells (guitar/vocals) and James Weir (bass) linked up with drummer Alex Otake with the purpose of scoring a friend’s film, which resulted in the formation of NE-HI. They tapped into what Balla calls the scene’s “wild, young energy,” playing go-for-broke at its home base. But quickly the band’s disparate influences — Wire’s post-punk, Springsteen’s everyman anthems, along with echoes of dreamy atmospheres of Dave Roback’s Rain Parade and the jangly buzz of Kiwi pop legends The Clean began burning through. Their self-titled debut was released in April of 2014 on Manic Static to critical acclaim, both locally (Chicago Tribune & Sound Opinion’s Greg Kot listed it as his #4 local album of the year) and nationally (Paste, Noisey, Stereogum, and Consequence of Sound have all pointed to NE-HI as a band to keep on your radar).
Offers drones, it captivates with soaring pop, it shimmers with atmosphere, always changing, looking. It finds the distant influence of forebears in cerebral guitar pop presented with a familiarity that typifies great FM rock hits. The Midwestern boys (two from Chicago, one from Wisconsin, and one from Minnesota) in NE-HI have a knack for knitting something comfortable and warm from those art school cast-offs and cult favorites. NE-HI’s music demands to be lived in.