February 26, 2020
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Rock ‘n’ roll fun coming to Orono

Sometimes you just can’t get a song out of your head. Try as you might, it’s not possible. I’ll get some song in my head, and I’ll hum “The Sharpest Pencil In Town” or the “Smokey and the Bandit” theme to myself in an effort to get rid of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Such has been the case with Pretty and Nice’s song “Tora Tora Tora,” the first track to pop up on the band’s MySpace page, and the happy little ditty that’s been bouncing around my brain for the past three days. This is a good thing: It’s so catchy that when I go see them play at the WMEB 91.9-FM showcase at the Keith Anderson Community Center in Orono this Saturday, I’ll know all the words and will be able to pogo along that much more vigorously.

Pretty and Nice is a Boston-based four-piece composed of keyboardist and knob twiddler Jeremy Mendicino, singer and guitarist Holden Lewis, bassist Bo Moore and drummer Michael Tucker. Over the years the band, originally made up of just Mendicino and Lewis, has cranked out upbeat, synthy, sometimes spazzy, sometimes sugary indie rock. Fans of Devo and XTC, check them out. Fans of contemporary popsters like Of Montreal and Matt & Kim, also check them out.

“I’d say we’re fun music. Rock ’n’ roll fun music. Interesting, fun, rock ’n’ roll music,” said Mendicino, speaking from his home studio just outside of Boston. “I could keep adding descriptors, but you get the idea. We listen to far more music than what obviously shows up in the music we make. It mushes all together.”

The band does, however, excel at making music that’s got some extra muscle to it. Owing as much to the organ-fueled, pop-influenced punk of Elvis Costello as it does ’80s new wave, Pretty and Nice’s newest album, “Get Young,” out last year on Hardly Art Records, commands the listener to do just that and dance in whichever way they see fit. The robot seems the most obvious choice, but you could just as easily do the turtle or the worm.

Pretty and Nice are fresh off the heels of a tour that’s taken them across the country and back several times, including a stop at the recent South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. The band loves to play towns and cities that aren’t always major stops for touring acts.

“We love to play places that our touring agent wouldn’t always push,” said Mendicino. “We love Dayton, Ohio. Tulsa, Oklahoma. We really love Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of awesome, interesting stuff out there that you don’t know about until you visit it. You think there’s a lot of nothing, and then you find all the cool people there.”

Hence why Pretty and Nice is psyched to play in Orono with their friends in Portland-based band Tony Smokes and the Ladykillers and local synth-pop heroes Feel It Robot. In short, Saturday night will be a night of dance-tastic, synth-o-rific indie-pop bliss.

The Orono show kicks off the last leg of a national tour supporting “Get Young.” After that, Pretty and Nice are heading back into their studio to record their latest album. No rest for the Pretty.

“We’ve got some stuff in the bag that didn’t make it on the last record. We’ve got bajillions of half-finished songs,” said Mendicino. “We’re always tape-tinkering and messing around in the studio. That’s half the fun of it.”

Pretty and Nice, Tony Smokes and the Ladykillers and Feel It Robot will play at WMEB 91.9-FM’s spring concert, set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Keith Anderson Community Center on Bennoch Road in Orono. The show is free and open to all ages. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/prettyandnice.

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