Emerging from underground venues in Chicago’s Northwest side, NE-HI made its name on both its live energy and cleverly wrought guitar anthems. On its second album Offers (Grand Jury), the band takes those basement-forged instincts and refines them, lets its guitars explore new angles, and focuses its songwriting. The result shows there are a wide range of post-punk possibilities yet to be explored.
It all started at Animal Kingdom, a flash-in-the-pan DIY basement in Chicago’s Logan Square. There, in the summer of 2013, three friends from college, Jason Balla (guitar/vocals), Mikey Wells (guitar/vocals) and James Weir (bass) linked up with drummer Alex Otake to score a buddy’s film and decided to start bashing around together as NE-HI. NE-HI’s more ambitious sound and heady arrangements broke away from garage rock’s back-to-basic’s approach. 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. The band attracted the attention of Dave Vettraino, who asked NE-HI to record at his Public House Recordings studio for posting on his website. Vettraino would go on to record the band’s debut album. The Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot gave the debut the #4 spot in his 2014 year-end list.