November 09, 2005

The City on Film "American Diary"

The City on Film's Bob Nanna always seemed to be one step ahead of the musical trends, yet he's never quite reached the heights he deserved. His first band, Braid, broke up right before 'emo' broke; though they're held with high regard in the independent music world, they're a band that could have--nay, should have--achieved mainstream success. His next band, Hey Mercedes, came of age right at the same time that emo became mainstream, but they never quite received the respect it deserved, as it seemed to be forever haunted by "ex-Braid" comparisons. He started his newest project, The City On Film, a few years ago, releasing EP's and compilation tracks ever-so-sporadically. It wasn't until this year that he released a full-length record, and with Hey Mercedes' end, his solo project now has full priority.

American Diary, his latest release, finds Nanna in fine form. This brief six-song record offers up a nice variety of styles, from full-band rockers sit alongside mellower, sadder numbers. The record starts with the pretty "Mary, I'm Ready," a gentle acoustic song that's somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. (Nanna's got a thing for Buckley, as witnessed by the numerous covers he's recorded and posted on his website.) "Pony's Last Trick" and "You're Gonna Need That Patience Soon" are two loud rockers that are very reminiscent of his previous two bands."Astray! Astray!" is a gentle number that's reminiscent of Harmacy-era Sebadoh. The last two numbers, the stoned-out "Well, It Goes Like This" and the "Mary, I'm Ready" instrumental coda, "Conclusion," are the only two songs that feel less than essential; they're nice, but they definitely pale in comparison to the previous four songs.

American Diary is a brief but satisfying little record, and it serves as a nice introduction to this talented fellow's music. (It also shows that Nanna's talent doesn't require other members of Braid, but let's not be too cynical, shall we?)

--Joseph Kyle
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