Raised in the small town Neptune City, New Jersey, Nicole Atkins has always had a part of her entangled in music. For awhile she tried to make it on her own, but after recording three EPs she still wasn’t widely recognized. Then in 2005, a keyboardist named Daniel Chen approached her about forming a band. She immediately jumped on the opportunity since Chen already knew how to play all her songs up on myspace. Now known as Nicole Atkins and the Sea, the band consists of front woman Nicole Atkins and the four D’s: keyboardist Daniel Chen, drummer Dan Mintzer, guitarist David Hollinghurst, and bassist Derek Layes.
The band’s debut album Neptune City was released in late 2007 and soon reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart. Atkins explains on her website that “this record is the history of my town; it’s the history of my family and friends in this town.” And it’s exactly that. Neptune City is filled with passion and a love of all things past. The album has a sense of something lost; of what could have been, what should have been and what might be. Neptune City passionately recognizes the emotional wreckage that’s piled up along our shores because of the charming and hopelessly adorable Nicole Atkins.
Nicole’s sound has been compared to Roy Orbison if he was a chick and is reminiscent of 60’s soul, folk rock, country and doo-wop. The entire album is captivating, but I would recommend my favorites “The Way It Is,” which is strangely Bond-like and “War Torn.” Another great one is “Neptune City,” which is a tragically perfect depiction of growing up and moving away from home.
I had the pleasure of catching Nicole Atkins and the Sea earlier this year in Atlanta and have full confidence that they will be just as impressive, if not more so, at this year’s Outside Lands Festival. The band is charming and full of a great intensity that they pound into snazzy solos and just full on fun. They’ll be playing Sunday August 24 at Golden Gate Park. Be sure to get there early and prepare yourself for an outstanding musical experience.