Blueprint Playlist: Nihiloceros

Blueprint Playlist: Nihiloceros

Hello, it's a brand new Blueprint Playlist—where I ask artists with new music out to share five(ish) songs that have inspired or informed the songs in some way or another.

Today we have a playlist from Nihiloceros, the Brooklyn-based "indie punk thrash pop" trio—co-led by Mike Borchardt (guitar and vocals) and Alex Hoffman (bass and vocals)—who just put out a new album on Totally Real Records.

Dark Ice Balloons, by TRR048 - Limited Edition 12″ Vinyl LP
8 track album

Dark Ice Balloons offers an appetizing spread of brisk, gritty, forthright pop-y punk that goes hard in intensity but never loses sight of melody. The band's straightforward approach lets the little details shine, like the synth line that sparkles underneath Borchardt and Hoffman's ragged back-and-forth chorus ("I'm gonna kill you / I'm gonna kill you / I'm gonna kill you when you're gone") on "Purgatory (Summer Swim)", or the interpolated snippet of Starship's "We Built This City" on "Counting Sheep."

Nihiloceros are a staple of the NYC rock scene and this album is great proof of their hard work; Mike from the band sent over their Blueprint Playlist and it is full of gems. Check it out after the jump...

Nihiloceros's Blueprint Playlist

The Pixies - "Caribou"

Not only does this slightly deeper cut address similar notions as “Dark Ice Balloons” regarding reincarnation and the afterlife, but you’d be pretty hard pressed to ever completely remove the Pixies influence from any of my or Alex’s (Hoffman/bass) songwriting in Nihiloceros. While not always the most obvious, the alt-rock pioneers are indeed directly responsible for the bands that shaped us, and thus have themselves remained one of our mutually favorite bands for the better part of 4 decades. Often times The Pixies will simply change the rhythm progression behind the riff, exposing a killer sleeper hook, a trick we leveraged prominently enough in the chorus of “Counting Sheep” that its original working title was in fact at one point “Dill Pixie.”

Alkaline Trio- "Goodbye Forever"

Much to Alex’s chagrin, Alkaline Trio is another band that seems forever baked into my musical DNA. As a Chicago native, the early arc of their career is inseparable from the building blocks of a lot of my early songwriting. While by the mid-2000s, I lost interest in their watered-down and overproduced style of dark indie emo punk, there is definitely a lot “Goodbye Forever” in songs like “Penguin Wings” both musically and lyrically with its all its angels and devils…not to mention the reference to Chicago’s infamous Fireside Bowl.

Violent Femmes - "Out The Window"

Another band that Alex and I both love but may arguably be one of his all time favorite bands, Violent Femmes have their fingerprints all over this record. Alex has a particular approach to accent and meter when we are crafting songs, which assuredly is due to his respect for the Milwaukee trio. Maybe they’re the true Martians Wisconsin? Who knows. Gordon Gano and crew definitely are, however, true masters of nuance and rhythmic accent.

Nirvana - "Lounge Act"

Like every rock band of the past 30 years, Nirvana continues to impact our sound in many ways. And though “In Utero” has always played a much more important role in my musical journey, it’s this banger of a punk track buried in the middle of Nevermind's B-sides that came up in conversations during the writing of Dark Ice Balloons. With its simple chord structure and honest guttural vocal delivery, it’s also deceptively quite slower than it seems. In fact much of of that record’s energy is belied by its BPMs; an execution of songwriting magic we attempted when slowing down our own songs a bit this time around. 

The Cure - "A Forest"

Another one of our favorite bands that always somehow sneaks its way into our songwriting. Early writing sessions may have involved deep discussion of guitar pedal effects and what’s actually chorus and what’s flanger. I think we’re always looking for not so subtle ways to tastefully use effects that were popular in the 1980s.

Regina Spektor - "All the Rowboats"

She has such amazing character to her voice and this uniquely smart and fun sense of humor to her lyricism. Not to mention she just writes these incredibly beautiful pop songs. I had been struggling with some of the imagery I was searching for when writing the lyrics to “Skipper” last summer and just so happened to catch Regina perform one night in Central Park. I hadn’t been too familiar with this song, and it so resonated with me as she performed it solo on a piano to a small crowd in rain. It was one of those perfect moments that just clicked it all together for me and buttoned up the gaps in the story of our lonely sea captain lost somewhere between circles of hell.

Jawbreaker - "Sluttering (May 4th)"

Jawbreaker is one of my biggest singular influences as a musician, and arguably the most direct through line to our catalog. It probably would’ve been cooler to pick a track off Bivouac or Unfun, or even 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, but Dear You is an underrated masterpiece. I have a whole lot of feelings for this banger of a breakup song, and knew there was some subliminal reason we scheduled our record release show for May 4th.

Listen to Nihiloceros's album and check out their link aggregation. And thanks for reading I Enjoy Music. If you like the blog, tell a friend.