by Michael Todd
Here’s a fun game to try. Take an album title, Prepared vs Preparing say, and interpret it. To be prepared is to imagine what’s coming next. The state of preparing is ongoing, shifting with every stimulus and improving slightly as the tracks go on.
As Prepared vs Preparing launches into perhaps the coolest six seconds of electronic music born in Nebraska, the brain prepares to be shot with dopamine via the rewards of nostalgia and Cheetos. See, this six seconds could have easily been pulled from any early iteration of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and the cymbal swells, strumming, soloing and sonic booms that follow prepare the listener for something big. Something massive. Something extraordinarily … quiet and emotional?
OK, Django G-S, Down With the Ship leadman (Disclosure: and Hear Nebraska contributor). I didn’t ask to be led astray by your wily ways. But strangely, unexpectedly, I’m getting in tune with your sparse vocals and acoustic guitar. Until you stop on a dime, sit for a few seconds then bring the full band in for a chorus, that is. Or maybe that’s OK, too.
“International Relations,” the second cut on this six-song, self-produced offering from the Omaha band, brings to mind none other than Tim Kasher and his typographical Omaha precedent. Django’s a bit less growly, the band’s a bit less electrified, and again, a minute and 45 seconds in, the quiet follows the loud almost incongruously. And at last, an onslaught of sound lets it fly unabashedly.
“The Sea is Wide” presents the point at which sudden dynamic changes become expected. A wonderfully well-arranged brass section throws the spotlight on G-S immediately. And the band joins in for a repeated chorus of “And we know the sea is wide / Can we keep our heads up with our arms at our sides.”
The final everyone-sing-their-heart-out chorus repeat becomes the part for which you’re prepared. It’s a nice way of returning to the familiar when seemingly unrelated song sections nestle up against each other. And it doesn’t hurt that words are repeated over and over, taking up residence between your ears for later on.
One recording faux pas — commentary about a high-hat at the end of “The Sea is Wide” — tarnishes an otherwise well-produced effort by G-S' Love Drunk Studio. His vocals have a tendency to slide from one note to the next — it’s intentional but becomes a bit too much in spots. And the rhythm section isn’t always exactly on time like us kids are accustomed to hearing.
But overall, Prepared vs Preparing is a labor of love, with a heavy helping of vim and dashed with soft sections of honesty through solo guitar and voice. It may not be what you’re ready for every step of the way, but it sure is quite the journey.
Michael Todd is a Hear Nebraska contributor. He wrote most if not all of this review sitting next to New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, who has covered Obama's presidency since his days in Chi-town. So there. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.