Serena Maneesh STILL slay - Oh My Rockness

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Serena Maneesh STILL slay

August 30, 2006
Editor's Note: We're re-running our Serena Maneesh write-up from way back in January, but we can assure you this diabolical "dressing up of the old to resemble the new" is in no part due to our inherent laziness... our "Failure to Launch" if you will. No, we are recycling our words for two reasons: 1.) we still pretty much believe all the stuff we said back then about this band to be true; 2.) this week our thoughts have been consumed not by bands, but by the lingering doubt that Reality really is the Absolute in a process of dialectical unfolding, and that it manifests itself in nature and history as it develops. {Whereas "dialectical" has come to mean "beef chimichangas" and "nature" roughly translates to "with multiple dollops of sour cream."}

Here's hoping Truth is an Unchanging Law, or else we're in for some serious trouble.


Just when you thought you were finally over the music of your high school days (or your older/younger sibling's high school days), shoegazing rears its swirling head once again. It is Serena Maneesh's (a band, not a person) intent to blast this once dormant genre back into primetime (see also: Blood on the Wall, but they're more "shoe stompy"). This noisy band (especially live) incorporate a "wall of sound" all their own, through guitar shreds, violin shrieks, and jittery tambourine clashes. Sure, Kevin Shields can certainly hear some of his influence in their work, but he'd have to dig around under all the layers to find it.

On their recent self-titled record that started all the hype, Norway's Serena Maneesh could, at times, sound musically manic-depressive. Sometimes they rocked high and sometimes they rocked low. But live, these guys are purely guttural, out to slay you with their razor guitars, rapid-fire rhythms, and distorted samples. Very rarely on stage will this band indulge in the lonely moments of reflection that was captured on the album (sparse piano hymns and hushed, dark atmospherics, between instrumental explosions) When giving a concert, they are all about decibels, baby.

Serena Maneesh's main man, Emil Nikolaisen, sings sparingly over the raucous instrumentation, and sometimes even turns over vocal duties altogether to his sister, Elvira, when the songs need the dreamy quality her fragile voice conveys. The band has been compared to bands like The Jesus & Mary Chain and Sonic Youth, mixed with the grand orchestration of Sigur Ros and M83. They even had their friend Sufjan Stevens play the flute and marimba on their latest self-titled album. Not too many bands can kill you with feedback AND flutes. If that's not musically manic-depressive, I don't know what is. But I'm willing to bet you won't be hearing any flutes at their show. Call it a hunch...

Final Editors Note: OMG, how completely JANUARY does that sound? This damn dialectical unfolding is over.

Serena Maneesh play Bowery Ballroom, on Friday, September 8th.


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