By Ariel McGee
Indie band Dear Nora performed at the Coop on Sunday, Nov. 4. Founded at Lewis & Clark in 1999 by Katy Davidson, the group was actually named after LC music professor Nora Beck.
“Nora Beck was (and still is) a big inspiration to us,” Davidson said via email. The band was originally started with a few other LC students, but over time Davidson took over as the main creator for the band, turning it into more of a solo project.
Their earlier music is harder to find, because the solo project went on hiatus in 2008 before reuniting in the spring and releasing “Skulls Example,” their first new album in 12 years.
“The back catalog isn’t on Spotify currently, but it will go up again sometime soon. We hope everyone listens to “Skulls Example,” but we’d love everyone to have access to the back catalog, as well,” Davidson said.
Dear Nora played last out of three bands, following sets from Olympia, Washington band Pigtails and fellow LC graduates Boreen. By the time Davidson and their bandmates were able to play, they only had about thirty minutes. The crowd that remained for Dear Nora seemed to be avid listeners, and they eagerly waited as the band set up. Davidson started off the concert by shouting with all the familiarity of a passionate former student, “Y’all, I lived in Howard in 1995!”
The band that accompanied Davidson on Sunday night consisted of a bassist, a drummer, a keyboard player and a second guitarist. The first track they played was “Morning Glories,” a quiet song with a hook both catchy and melancholy, featuring soft vocal harmonies. Davidson’s raw autobiographical lyrical style reminds one of fellow indie rocker Courtney Barnett.
All of the songs played at the concert came from “Skull Examples.” These tracks all bear a similar sound due to their consistent use of similar guitar tones, but Davidson’s experimentation in songwriting provides ample differentiation.
Near the middle of the concert they played the playful “Black Truck.” The song builds off of a driving guitar riff, and is then met by a bouncy drum beat and a repetitive chorus. Other songs were more synth-based, using space-age sounds and ethereal singing to craft a far-out atmosphere. At the end of the night, Davidson signed off with the warm bit of advice: “Be good to each other, okay?”
Davidson demonstrates a distinct ability to explore many different sounds and types of music in “Skull Examples,” and their live performance only affirmed that ability. There is more to come from Dear Nora in the near future according to Davidson.
“I’ll definitely make some new recordings and release them sometime in 2019.”