Nineteen Thirteen is a group that’s more normal than its lineup suggests, and one that’s much, much weirder. On one hand, the duo of Victor DeLorenzo and Janet Schiff produces surprisingly accessible music, especially considering the musicians play the drums and a 100-year-old cello, respectively. On the other hand, Schiff’s cello is often processed through a dizzying array of effects pedals, DeLorenzo’s occasional cool-cat vocals seem beamed in from another dimension, and the overall effect is akin to listening to a band crash the Roadhouse from Twin Peaks. It’s familiar, but it’s also slightly off-center.
Like Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch, Nineteen Thirteen is a group concerned with sound. Take the duo’s latest six-song EP, If You Like It, It’s Good. (The title, by the way, references a tour story from DeLorenzo’s old band, Violent Femmes.) “Stage Whisper” opens with a booming wall of cinematic synth and chattering drums, “Candy Necklace” swoops and sways under a wash of percussion and chimes, and the excellent “Olazabal” mimics the rounded and pleasurable sound of its oft-repeated title. Later, “Lullaby” utilizes a vintage drum sampler to create a spooky and tranced-out vibe, while “Neverwood” layers sound upon mournful sound for a haunting and hard-to-shake closer. These are songs, of course, but, like many great artists, Nineteen Thirteen seems less concerned with the final product than with the journey and the process of creation.
Need proof? Listen to the remaining track from If You Like It, It’s Good, “The Anchor.” It’s probably the least accessible song on the EP, but it’s a fine summation of what makes Nineteen Thirteen tick. On 2018’s Sci-Fi Romance, DeLorenzo sang about “the most beautiful sound.” The group’s love affair with that beautiful sound continues here.
If You Like It, It’s Good is available now on most streaming platforms. The group’s next show is July 19 at the Mineral Point Opera House, playing in support of Trapper Schoepp.