Reviews

You May Already Be Dreaming

Author: Georgia Kral
05/07/2008 | New York Press | www.nypress.com | Live Show Preview
Considering the subject matter of many of Neva Dinova's songs—the Apocalypse, death, storms and clouds—Jake Bellows, lead singer and songwriter, is a cheerful guy. And even after having his weed stolen on the second night of the tour in Denver, he was still making jokes.

Neva Dinova is from Omaha, home to famed Saddle Creek Records and wonder kid Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes). When asked what he does for fun and inspiration in the Midwestern city, Bellows sarcastically spoke of corn husking and farm animals.

"We push cows around," he said. "You know, the standard stuff."

Neva Dinova's third album, You May Already Be Dreaming, was just released on Saddle Creek and is a complex soundscape straight from the wind-swept cornfields of Nebraska. Bellows is a modern day Neil Young of sorts. His songs can be soft and gentle enough for acoustic porch sing-alongs, but add the band and a full-onslaught of sound and raging expression hits you. "Apocalypse," the second to last track on the new album, begins with Bellows' gentle voice and an echoing guitar line: "And their kids and their dogs…and they're all dying quick." A couple minutes of this and then Roger Lewis' simple drums kick in and all of a sudden swirly and dreamy guitars turn the desperate song into a hopeful one. Performed live, this song is sure to be a spine-tingler.

The members of Neva Dinova have been friends and bandmates with other Saddle Creek musicians for years, but only now have they released a disc with the indie powerhouse. The relationship was discussed before, explains Bellows, but it didn't pan out.

"They were going to release our album or Rilo Kiley's," Bellows says. "They put out Rilo Kiley."

Rilo Kiley has since left Saddle Creek and Neva Dinova remained interested.

"Basically it was like, 'You can find us at the bar if you want to put our album out,'" he explains.

The deal with Saddle Creek has been good so far. Bellows and the band rented out warehouse space in downtown Omaha last summer from their friend who owns and runs the Goofy Foot Lounge in the same building. They spent all the time they wanted recording, perfecting their sound.

"I was basically living there for five months with no A.C., no amenities, no shower," Bellows says. "I was lucky to have a toilet."

It's obvious the album was lovingly recorded. Each song is meticulously intricate, with textured guitar parts that weave together seamlessly but also stand starkly alone. There are three guitar players in the band, which can be overkill if the second and third guitarists play blandly. Luckily, Bellows hears orchestras when writing songs—"I just explain what I hear in my head," he says—and has no trouble relaying what that sound is like.