By: James Goff / Music Specialist
I was first exposed to The Obsessives on Instagram by a music photographer named Jessica Flynn. She happens to be good friends with members of Modern Baseball, so I had seen many of her pictures of them and believe I have actually seen her at a couple of their shows. I had seen multiple pictures of this band named The Obsessives and the two very young members looked incredibly interesting. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Something about them just looked different. Eventually, I decided I had to listen to this band, so I looked for some kind of session. Whether it’s KEXP or NPR’s Tiny Desk or Berlin Sessions, no type of recording is better at exposing you to a band’s sound then a three-ish song performance meant for no more than like twenty listeners. I saw the only one they had was a Little Elephant session. While these are never bad, Little Elephant tends to have bands that are a little bit obnoxious, which made me doubt that The Obsessives would be anything other than just another band.
I didn’t believe I heard quite right. The first song that came on was Daisy/Bored, which I later discovered is two different songs on their first LP, Heck No Nancy. The dark-haired kid was playing guitar next to the mic and the one that looked like Blake from Workaholics was on drums. By the end of the song, I was scrambling to play the next one. While the vocals were a little goofy and seemed a little too close to being screams, the lyrics were poetry, the guitar was ambient and powerful at once, and the drums hit heavy and constant. The singer, Nick Bairatchnyi, sang about girls, about not getting girls, and why he likes these girls. However, when the writer is good enough, the most trivial of topics can be the most intriguing. Like many other good lyricists, he captures more than just what’s happening; he captures entire feelings. I later discovered that Nick uses a splitter to plug his guitar into both a guitar and bass amp, which explains the incredible ambiance he creates.
I later watched a video of theirs called LP One: The Making of “Heck No Nancy.” Their mini-documentary about basically the entire band’s history revealed that the guitarist is indeed the lyricist, while the drummer, Jackson Mansfield, writes most of the music.
The Obsessives new self-titled album comes out on 3/17, so I’ll spend my snow break catching you up on their only other full-length album, Heck No, Nancy. Named for a Slaughterhouse-Five quote, the LP was released September 15, 2015 on Philly record label Near Mint. They seem to be influenced by all the old bands you could think of, as well as many newer ones. At times I can hear Pink Floyd, Joy Division, and Radiohead all at once.
The other two songs in the Little Elephant session were Wet Shorts and Am I High? Wet Shorts is the where Nick (you can’t expect me to use his last name in this, it has like ten consonants in a row) almost gets too much emotion in his voice. But again the lyrics are incredible, though at first slightly indiscernible. This is also probably the best guitar song of the three, and the drums are equally outstanding here. Am I High? is about… you guessed it! Girls. Ha. Joking aside, this song is incredibly intimate, with the opening lines: ‘My mom asked me if I’m in love with you; I answered no hesitantly. It felt like lying.’ While the guitar part is not as impressive, it is very spacey and open in a wonderful way. I never really heard a drummer whose parts were as important to the quality of the song as Jackson Mansfield’s are. While most of the attention is on Nick, those that allow Mansfield’s drums to also occupy their thoughts are deeply rewarded. In this videos, he was especially fun to watch, not because he drums fast or anything but because you can appreciate his music so much more.
Transports you to: “My finger touches yours and my world is one inch by one inch by one inch” –Daisy
Makes you feel: “High school sucks when you’re stuck on someone who’s given up” –Nodding Off
Favorite Track: Almost too tough to say; probably Nodding Off but all of the Little Elephant songs are DARN close