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Preening: Nice Dice 7"

Preening: Nice Dice 7"

Tags: · 10s · no wave · punk · spo-default · spo-disabled · weird
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Oakland trio Preening is saxophonist/vocalist Max Nordile, bassist/vocalist Alejandra Alcala, and drummer Sam Lefebvre. The group’s sound — nervy and spare, brawny and coarse — has been described as a “slyly antagonizing joyful noise…alive with California blood and a contorted New York impulse a la ZE Records,” references to which the group would add The Smell circa 2006, a onetime Mission District meat-locker circa 2009, and, foremost, the inimitable dispatches of its present peers in Oakland.

Preening formed in the fall of 2016, rehearsing as well as playing its first show in a light-filled warehouse near the waterfront. The group released two demos as well as its debut Beeters EP (Digital Regress) in 2017, followed by the Greasetrap Frisbee EP (Ever/Never) the next year. Nice Dice, its third EP, was recorded in summer 2017 at Santo Studio in West Oakland by Zachary James Watkins (Black Spirituals), who contributed atmospheric guitar to the record's “gang laughter” interludes. Preening's mascot is the black-crowned night heron.

Our take: Latest in a spate of recent releases by this no-wave band from Oakland, California. As on their previous releases, the quirky rhythms and skronky saxophone abound. While Nice Dice is a brief single, Preening goes several different places in its 7-ish-minute run-time, from the mutant funk of “CPD” to the anti-rock “Effigy.” I’m sure I’ve said this in descriptions of their previous records, but I’m still struck by how free and alive Preening’s music sounds. Having grown up listening primarily to more straightforward hardcore and punk, I always thought making music is like following a recipe… you might tweak the mix of spices or add or subtract an ingredient or two to suit your individual taste, but the basic recipe is stable and familiar. However, Preening don’t sound like they’re following a recipe… they sound like they’ve taken the ingredients, thrown them into the air, then rolled around in the mess on the floor. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not. Preening’s indulgence in this transgressive joy is what I need to (Calgon) take me away from a life filled with worry, anxiety, and frustration.