Heart Attack Special
'Nillah - Heart Attack Special: Taking you higher' by Kurt Hernon (bangSheet) God it sucks trying to be a rock music fan lately. It's even worse if you have to write about it. My guess is that it would be simply dismal to be in a band trying to make rock music these days. Unless, of course, your band played metallic rap - or whatever it's called. Boy would that be neat! But, I am not a big fan of the metal/rap thing, and I don't hanker for slick boy-band pop or over-warmed teen-playmate-sex-sells dance grooves. It's all worthy stuff I'm guessing, and I am thrilled at the success of such trends. But it seems that the money players in the music industry have put rock, alternative rock (no, not the Seattle-blend, pseudo heavy metal rock that stole the term 'alternative'), pop/rock, and any other such guitar-based, somewhat melodic music into an old war chest that Harry Houdini himself couldn't escape. Turns out though, that apparently it does not suck being in a rock and roll band nowadays. There are bands in this great big world of ours still playing rock and roll. Seriously. And recently I've heard some pretty damn good ones. I know, I know, it's a bit of a shock...take it easy now...there you go. Now, I kid you not when I say that there is an incredible pop/rock revival goin' on. A full blown, rock and roll, guys and girls, guitars-bass-drums, real people un-sampled, rock and roll world. It's out there...it's nearly surreal as it lurks, waiting to rear up and take it's rightful (?) place in the public conscience. Or, perhaps the whole thing, this under-pop movement, will go completely (well, okay, now that I've let the cat out of the bag - you and I know, but...) unnoticed. Nillah hopes it doesn't. For their sake, I hope it doesn't either. It would be distressing for a band of such melodic chops, such hook-powered drive, such 'at the fore/leading the pack' type ability, to be left in the dustbin of musical time. Elisabeth Eickhoff, the bassist and vocalist in Nillah, doesn't seem to be too concerned about the dustbin. Quite nobly, Nillah seems to be making music for the unusual reason of simply breaking the 'Nirvana hold' on alternarock. Meaning: a return to a clean, melodic sound, smart lyrics, and catchy gigantic open songs. Not that Nirvana were responsible for anything more than being a very good band who spurred a slack industry to fill up the airwaves with pretend-Nirvana, post Nirvana heaviness, and altogether bleak, dull, and uninspiring music, however, the results speak for themselves. 'I don't want to say that we just make music for such and such a person, or such and such a reason,' says Eickhoff, 'but, as cliché as it may be, we remember music being a bit more positive, more melodic, and if our music can make one person hear that, if one person gets something new out of it, I'm glad.' Heart Attack Special is basically the music that Nillah has been performing and building on for it's six or so years of existence. The record features seven songs that Eickhoff and guitarist/vocalist Greg Gentry had come to know so well that they realized it was high time to get them onto disc and out to the public for consumption. 'We felt a need to find a good small label, which we did with ShutEye, and get something out there to validate what we were doing' said Eickhoff. The clean alternative 80's rock of Heart Attack Special more than validates this band, it bodes a fine future. The songs ring with authenticity and boil over with smashing melody. 'February' ringing the opening bell, slides along on a slippery lime Jell-O groove. The writing is impeccable. 'Hey you / up in the sky / up in the sky-y-y / Hey you / you fed me a line / you fed me a li-ii-ne' goes 'Killjoy' as it sits guitars on top of guitars and the bass pops off - positively bouncy. It makes me smile. The guitar fed title tune slaps a slice of bittersweet rock proper on top of things, and 'Westerberg High'...well what can you say about a song called that - named after him! Nothing, except that it is so much smarter a song than I ever fathomed would be possible with that working title. Ahh life! Do you remember rock and roll radio? Corny eh?! Damn right...it makes me smile. SMILE! It makes me bop my head. It has me dancing around my house. It turns my day into a Friday morning- class cutting-beer keg party tonight-got me a cute punk rock grrl date tonight-type day. I am giddy and stupid. Drunk without drinking. Kind of, well f*** it, kind of great - it makes me feel great...f***ing great. I'm almost embarrassed trying to explain it, but to hell with it all, I'm not one bit embarrassed. If music could always help me feel like this, if I could put on just any 'ol record and lose my senses, just escape this life for a moment, I'd probably drink less (well, maybe). So what's wrong with that? Nothing I say. Nillah can just keep playing away! Nillah can just keep popping off with a smile in their sound and they can put their Big Fat Hook right into my numbskull and make me their dopey smiley-faced marionette. A floppy armed, googly legged, wormy dancing fool - going higher, going higher, going higher, going higher, going higher...