October 14, 2014

LP: NONA - Through the Head

Take a moment to appreciate NONA's final album.

I recently decided to go part-time at the job I’ve been working full-time at for nearly a year. I initially came to Philly with the intention of working on writing before going home to LA and trying this whole film world out. But with working full-time, the writing? It’s been a lot slower than I thought. After many harried phone calls with my father, where he reminded me of the very in flux nature of the economic climate (who can blame him? He’s an artist and has to live in a world where steady pay- checks are just the stuff of dreams), I decided to take the leap. It’s around this time, that I started listening to the re-release of NONA’s debut LP, Through the Head. I started listening to it a lot. Then NONA broke up. And now I can’t turn it off.

Originally based out of West Chester, PA, singer Mimi Gallagher relocated to Philadelphia within the last year. Since then, NONA has been through several lineup shifts. It almost makes sense that after building a really cohesive record with some semblance of proximal security, that that’s when it all ends. Through the Head as a name is strangely on point as NONA reminds me of the belligerent angst and pride I felt as a teenager. It becomes a soundtrack to what you imagine your younger self was like: intoxicated by righteousness and slamming the door on your parents’ stupid advice. On “Bus Rides,” the guitar charges forward, slowing down to allow for Gallagher’s breathy, quiet vocals. “The bus rides home / in the back seat / vandalizing with a sharpie what we learned from what we heard / the proof was on our hands / this is it”. The last phrase, "This is it", is delivered with the urgency of awareness. “Dead to You” opens with an almost shaker-like snare and slingy bass line, like that of a Wheatus song (this is not meant to be offensive). Soon, a dissonant, feedback-y sound can be heard accumulating in volume— signaling the break from this 90’s lullaby into the existential curds of, “It wouldn’t matter anyway.” The hints of small town boredom are palpable, as NONA opts to focus on the minutiae of these moments of growing up. On "Jack Chan", this notion is particularly germane. The track has rapid bursts of instrumentation and these, wait- stop-breathe pauses. The song begins with a variation on the chorus: “I can’t wait to get to nowhere!” This chorus, like others of NONA’s is aggressive.

However, there are these significant, dreamy, slowed down, meditations in the off-beats. Like what happens when you’re left alone with your feelings too long and you run through the whole gamut of emotions. “Bottles,” the record’s strongest track, begins with sludgy, noisy, chords. In near monotone reminiscent of (as well as lyrically similar to) Kurt Cobain, Gallagher demures, “They don’t love you like they used to”. The track holds you off, until three heavy hits signal this wailing chorus of anthemic proportion. “Can’t hide behind those bottles / can’t hide behind those bottles of blood,” resonates like hot, angry, tears. Sorry NONA, I’ll be hiding behind the bottles tonight, mourning the loss of something great. At least we’ll have Through the Head to make it okay.


Listen to NONA on bandcamp.

Madeline Meyer, a Los Angeles transport to Philadelphia. She writes screenplays and plays guitar and sings in Littler. Her favorite things are olives, board games, and dad jokes.