So much of NE-HI’s energy is derived from their live performances. Begotten from the Chicago underground scene they practically learned how to be a band in front of an audience - a quality virtually impossible to reproduce in a recording. However, NE-HI managed to capture the sticky beer drenched floors, the drab basement acoustics, the slamming and swaying of bodies - ensuring the second you press play you’re transported into the heart of the diy scene.

     Jason Balla, Alex Otake, James Weir, and Mickey Wells seamlessly made the transition from another live band to jumping in the studio and producing two live albums. With the release of Offers in February the band managed to keep those rough edges while presenting a more dynamic album. Jangle punk “Prove” and thick riffed “Sisters” coexisted effortlessly. Ending with “Stay Young,” a listlessness anthem about the struggle of clinging to youth despite everything evolving.

      While still celebrating the success of their sophomore album, the band checked another important milestone off the list: releasing their first 7”. Featuring “Rattled and Strange” and “Long Time,” the pair buzz with atmosphere. “Rattled and Strange” maintains the helter skelter sentiment as Balla’s guitar dodges and weaves around repetition. Presenting itself as a reckless rock song they’re able to maintain much of their edgy allure. With the uncut vocals and untamed instrumentals, there’s a sense of unrefinement that becomes synonymous with authenticity.

      “Long Time,”’ while not the song you’d shout along to, represents something softer. Listless as it winds it’s way forward the song is heavy with the weight of waiting. There’s a nostalgia for time stuck in anticipation but a gentle ease in how it’s presented. Prompting introspection, it’s not the typical straight from the garage NE-HI track but captures those quieter moments.

       While it’s obvious these songs were written to be played above ground and on a proper stage, NE-HI is careful not to abandon their roots. Their music still remains to be a snapshot of the house shows that shaped them. While they continue to become prominent players in the Chicago music scene their sincerity is unwavering. The pressure to make hit records and comprise for success aren’t even a thought to NE-HI as they’re rising astronomically quick on the foundations they set years ago. Sticking true to the elements that started it all, NE-HI is still the basement band listeners fell in love with, they’re just stepping into the light.


samantha sullivan