» LATEST FEATURES

LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Nina The Pinta
The Nina The Pinta
QREC

Rating: 6.6/10 ?


January 8, 2008
Confidence is one thing that should never come into question for The Nina The Pinta. The band's vigorous and brisk debut has guts in spades; it's the Minneapolis quintet's creative muscles that could stand to be juiced with a shot in the arm. What had initially piqued my interest about this Land o'Lakes outfit was their hunger to just kick ass in the simplest of ways. There are a lot of groups out there right now wanting to re-invent the wheel with studio experimentation and elaborate performance concepts, and that's all fine to an extent. Every decade needs a certain percentage of pretentious experimentation, affording the Animal Collectives and the Battleses a means to creep out through the crowd and point back to the Soft Boys and King Crimson in explanation. That is how independent music keeps from going stale. But come on - everyone's got it in their library, but does anyone still listen to Fun House? Did we forget how good it felt to blast "Die, All Right!" eight years ago?

Well apparently The Nina The Pinta didn't. The band has done their homework, and I give them a lot of respect for the spirit with which they approached this album. But like the ships of Christopher Columbus they take their name from, good intentions give way to mixed results. The A for effort the band earned going in is eroded over the album's course, enthusiasm failing to outweigh monotony. No matter what the mares might say, the secret to being a successful one trick pony is size, and while a colt may zestfully chomp at the bit it takes a mustang to pull the apple cart. When it comes to horsepower, think more along the lines of Les Savy Fav's Boeing jet engine rather than The Nina The Pinta's radio-controlled bi-plane. One trick ponies can make it (see the White Stripes, Sigur Rós, et cetera), but they've got to be Clydesdales, and on their eponymous first album The Nina The Pinta sprints to the finish line, ripping the tape after barely a half an hour, only to arrive they're so winded that they can't see straight, out of breath and out of ideas.

That's not to say that the ideas they had aren't good ones. There are even flashes of ass kicking to be found here, most often when lots of guitars are involved. If you wish more bands wielded the axe like Tim Harrington's Frenchkiss flagship, congratulations, you've found a friend in The Nina The Pinta. In their debut's best stretch, the one-two punch of "Death To The Matador" and "Tallest Hat Is Law," the Minnesotans fire on all cylinders; the guitars, the shouts, the hunger - it's all there. Even though it is spent copying the formula of the two stormers, the rest of the album falls comparatively short. The vocals skate close to blandness in the album's biggest lulls, and by the time "Barber Is In" finishes there is a sense of absence, a space where there should be a pause to let the album sink in. But no revelations come, because The Nina The Pinta doesn't feel like a complete experience. Perhaps it's a track or two too short. Perhaps the gears weren't shifted up and down forcefully enough. Perhaps some vocoders or accordions or 808s would have upped the ante. Perhaps a lot of things could have given this album the je ne sais quoi that inhabits Les Savy Fav tracks, but those things aren't there. The end result is a band that looks to be a little over half the way to putting their finger on it.

Their confidence being accounted for, The Nina The Pinta need to take stock elsewhere. For all intents and purposes, they've got two choices; they can either look at this effort like a skeleton mold of their sound and flesh out the empty spaces with new approaches and take some scary but potentially rewarding risks, or they can turn it up to eleven and really just rock the fuck out in hopes the Twin Cities have another Hold Steady story in them.

That The Nina The Pinta haven't fully formed shouldn't be given much weight as an indicator of their potential, as the first attempt at an LP rarely finds any band making a definitive statement. It's clear from this self-titled effort that The Nina The Pinta wants to explode like a short-fused firecracker in the hands of an absent-minded ten year-old, and "Matador" and "Law" are two enjoyable blasts of solid rock that have me interested in what set of cards these boys play next.

Reviewed by Dave Toropov
Introduced to music in the womb with a pair of headphones on his mother's stomach, Dave Toropov has yet to recover the experience. A writer based in Boston and New York, he has also written for Prefix Magazine and What Was It Anyway, and is the maintainer of the "Middleclass Haunt" blog.

See other reviews by Dave Toropov

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!