Nikki Shapiro – Demonstrations EP

Nikki Shapiro
Demonstrations EP

Nikki Shapiro is a professional. Before writing and releasing songs under his own name, he played in the old Athens, Georgia, band Rubber Experiment. That name is a dim ghost in the back of my mind, bringing to mind olden days of the Atomic and the High Hat. From there, Mr. Shapiro moved on to the Triangle area in NC, playing bass in a math-rock combo called Matter Eater. Never heard of “em. But now, for the last few years or so, Nikki has been writing and recording material under the name Nikki Shapiro and the Young Adults. A far cry from Rubber Experiment’s wonky rock and Matter Eater’s dynamism, Nikki’s solo work consists primarily of sad-eyed piano ballads with occasional percussion. On this brand new four-song demo EP, Shapiro shows off a few of his new songs, songs calibrated to incite the tearing process.
Demonstrations is basically just a demo and not an official release, so I have no idea how finished these songs are. They are very sparse, consisting primarily of just piano and Shapiro’s voice, with some percussion and a bit of bass noise halfway through the third song. This minimalism can make it a bit hard to differentiate between songs, and Shapiro’s sleepy vocal delivery compounds this problem. Such songs as “Do What You Will” and “Beautiful Whore” do contain some nice melodies from both vocals and piano, and Shapiro’s downcast lyrics are somewhat charming in their dissolute bleakness. It’s all very reminiscent of the solo records put out by Epic Soundtracks, the former Swell Maps member and brother to Nikki Sudden who took his own life in the late 90s. Epic’s records were masterworks in depression, and Mr. Shapiro evinces a somewhat likeminded songwriting style. The overwhelming similitude of the songs, though, make it easy to lose track of what’s what. It’s not that big a deal on a four-song CD, but it could be a problem over the course of a whole album.
Nikki Shapiro is on the right track, here. Nothing about Demonstrations is amazing, but what is here is good enough to make one think that, with some more years under his belt, Shapiro could turn out some classic tunes in the drunken and depressed singer/songwriter, piano-man vein. We should all hope for nothing less.