It’s difficult to classify State College’s newest local band, One Shot Nicky. The band, a duo comprising PSU seniors Alex Pianovich and Justin Russikoff, plays the folksy, bluesy style that has come to characterize indie music of late. At the same time, the pair’s music embraces another popular trend — it draws influences from a wide spectrum of genres that allows one song to sound very different from another.
But if you ask them, they prefer to call their music “folkrockcountrypunk.”
The band is releasing its debut album, “One Shot Nicky’s Illegal Lumbering Racket,” online this weekend. It features seven songs and will be available for streaming on the duo’s Facebook page. They plan to release it for download as soon as possible.
For those unfamiliar with the film, the band’s name is a homage to The Deer Hunter.
Most of the album’s songs, like Blowin’ South and Firecracker Blues, stick largely to a bluesy folk rock feel. But some have hints of other styles in them.
My personal favorite on the album, for example, is Stone Awake. It takes a very easy pace with a bouncy rhythm that starts simply with Pianovich’s acoustic guitar before Russikoff comes in with his own guitar rhythms. Soon the vocals and a falling guitar melody join in.
The song sticks to a gentle tone until about 1:27, where it ramps into the first breakdown. The dichotomy between the light tone of most of the song and the portions where they rock out is reminiscent of the way Wings’ “Band on the Run” works. Then, shortly after the second instance of the breakdown section it slips into a heavily blues-influenced guitar solo over what could be characterized as easy listening jazz. This rounds out the song.
Another song with clear jazz influence is the unfortunately short (it’s only 1:43) “I Miss When We Was Lovers.” It starts out with some rockin guitar before the piano quickly transitions it into something you might hear in the bar scene of a Western film. But near the end a harmon-muted trumpet comes in with some New Orleans-inspired jazz until the song’s end.
At first, while listening to “Steel City,” I couldn’t decide whether I liked the vocals. They are very mature sounding for such a young singer, yet also very gruff, almost bordering corny at a few points in “Steel City.” But after those few moments in that song, I decided I liked the vocals on the rest of the album.
Pianovich sounds like a more rough-sounding John Popper of Blues Traveler or perhaps a less emphysemic-sounding Dylan. A more apt comparison might be Anthony Followill of Kings of Leon.
Although it follows a similar style, this definitely isn’t your usual pretentious college indie rock. These guys incorporate a variety of styles into their music, with a folk/blues base, but they are far from hipsters. This album is definitely worth your while. Check out a pre-mix version of the track “Andalusia” below.