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Dear Nora with Nicholas Krgovich and Hello Shark
Monday September 11, 2017
D: 7:00 // S: 8:00 PM
At the turn of the millennium, the Pacific Northwest’s embrace of grunge and riot grrrl was quietly being replaced by a soft introspection that arose from the area’s lush and cool environment. Led by bands like the Microphones, Mirah, and Little Wings, this scene recognized the vastness of the world and explored their place within it: “But I’m small, I’m not a planet at all/I’m small, I’m small, we’re all,” sang Phil Elverum on 2001’s The Glow Pt 2. They appeared in each other’s projects, released each other’s music, and generally evolved together as a community.
Katy Davidson became embedded in this world after moving to Portland in 1995 to attend the liberal arts college Lewis & Clark. It was there, in the summer of 1999, that she formed Dear Nora alongside her classmates Marianna Ritchey and Ryan Wise. Crafting speedy jangle-pop that cherished emotional earnestness, the early Dear Nora sound was strikingly similar to the music of their Magic Marker labelmates Tullycraft, All Girl Summer Fun Band, and the Owls. After releasing a debut LP, We’ll Have a Time, in early 2001, Davidson moved to San Francisco where she continued performing and touring under the Dear Nora moniker.
There’s certainly a psychedelic vibe to *Mountain Rock—*not in the “turn on, tune in, drop out” sense, but in the willingness to submit oneself to introspection. Davidson’s focus on the spartan acoustic guitar allows her to replicate small moments, like wind whistling across rocks, the movements of a bird. Every pluck feels purposeful—microcosmic echoes of the world slightly shifting its weight. This effect is heightened by the atmospheric, instrumental interludes scattered throughout: “Living Song” is a mesmerizing drone, “West Nile!!” is an extraterrestrial-sounding guitar loop, “The Climb” is a sleepy piano piece. “Departure Song” is a spare improvised track recorded among the steel curvature of a Quonset hut, which gives the song its vast, cavernous reverberations.