Judah Nagler tends to spread himself out. Most of you know him from the Velvet Teen—and more recently, Odd Bird, and perhaps most inconspicuously, from his electronic project Atair. Did he really need to join another band? On drums, no less?
“Majid,” by Five Beats One, offers a resounding yes to the question. It wouldn’t be fair to call Five Beats One “Judah’s band,” though. The new band’s lineup also comprises Darwin Meiners, Derek Doss, and Mark Benanti, all well-known names in the area music scene from bands like Brothers Horse, Secret Courtesy—and, in the case of Benanti, a self-published book on classical guitar technique. What does it all sound like? Hear the clip below.
I first came across Guy Henry playing guitar three years ago, in a shed on Slater Street. Clubs were getting shut down left and right in Santa Rosa, guerrilla shows were thriving at Boys Club and the Boogie Room, and he and Nik Proctor passed a red hollow-body guitar back and forth among the wood-plank walls, making some of the most beautiful, eerie music I’d heard. I immediately crouched in the corner and started writing in my notebook. I wanted to capture it. I sensed it wouldn’t last.
Even though Guy is still playing music under the moniker Low Five, he’s always changing things up. Two years ago he added Goodriddler‘s Nicholas Wolch and bassist extraordinaire Kyle Lindauer to Low Five, and the shows I caught were mind-boggling—the songs swelled and drifted and crashed and rose like gales of paramecia. Every time I saw them, the songs were different; inverted, folded, turned inside-out, a cousin to Animal Collective’s guitar-driven Feels era mixed with ragged, free-form improv.
Against likely odds, Low Five quickly became a veritable buzz band around town. But then… the band took a hiatus. “We’re scrapping our set and writing all new songs,” Wolch told me. What the hell? How could they just ditch all that greatness and start over? Didn’t anyone record them?
Fortunately, local recording engineer Ross Harris did. Those full-band tracks mixed with some of Guy’s home-recorded solo material comprise Low Five’s debut album November, timely captured and released this month by Saint Rose Records. You can pre-order it here.
As for that hiatus? Sources tell me that Low Five had band practice again just last night. I can’t wait to see what new tip they’re on when they reemerge.