Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Nicole Schneit of Air Waves' words are on wheels, bounding over a haunting and bumpy roll of guitar strumming, lazily taking their place right where they need to be - sidled up to the feeling that everything told is a silhouette of a wayward daydream of average issues, coming from a paper heart that's been shredded by a thoughtless somebody.
On "Waters," Schneit is hanging out on a train, hanging out with "all these bad people" and almost immediately, she's changed the locations on us, moving us to the shore, where suddenly an "us" is involved and we're running around that shore trying not to be taken away. Even if it's wrong, it's hard not to picture this being an attempt to get an insane person locked up in an asylum - the potential patient losing her mind on the train, thinking that all the people surrounding her on the stinky thing were the ones who really needed the help and then imagining her fleeing from her wannabe captors/doctors in white coats in zig-zags of all arms and spins moves on the sandy shore is wonderful tragi-comedy.
Now, it almost feels as if we need to step back a little and re-examine our original statement, suggesting that "Waters" is an apt introduction to the overall feeling of Air Waves, the musical act, and Schneit as a writer. She's not a lunatic and, as offered prior, the crazy on the loose assumption could be horribly wrong, but it might not be all that far from a desired portrayal that Schneit wants. She inundates us with imagery of both things created in nature and things being destroyed by nature. She keeps an even hand through all of the flings and torpor that accompany these one-of-a-kind formations and situations - the awesome power of a thunderstorm, the alien moves of waves and the curiously mysterious and untellable creation of gemstones.
The music of Air Waves is a mostly controlled thumping, a floating sort of flight that enjoys Sunday driving and getting out and into the countryside where there's more room to bring and where - if you stay longer than just a day trip - you're liable to see stars brighter than headlights on a clear evening. Even with the soft landings that Schneit seems to produce with her mild-mannered-ness, Air Waves songs are about conflict deep down inside. She sings on "Waters," "Babe, I'm not who you want me to be," and there's not really a sense if this is catastrophic or this is just an assessment that any bystander could make - just one of the things that's always harder for those in the thick of it to come to grips with. It is a conflict though, one of passivity and one that's not going to destroy someone too bad, but the momentary repercussions could sting a little if they come from out of the blue.
*Essay originally published December, 2009