Portland's Nucular Aminals came through Missoula a few times in the past couple of years (Spruce street house in 2011, and with Slut River in 2012 -- supported by local darlings 10yoGF and Needlecraft, respectively). Admittedly, I missed them at the house show (it's summer and sometimes you could be at the house without ever entering the house. It was a nice yard), but the set at the Badlander was very impressive. Perhaps it was the fact that I hadn't seen a punk show at the Badlander for a few months or that the line-up was awesomely curated for a late summer show, but the melancholic pop of Nucular Aminals fit perfectly with the hunktastic fun of Needlecraft and the rawness of Slut River.
Much is made of the deliberate misspelling of their name, and, I occasionally have to fight my spell check and the damnit-they-made-me-sound-like-Bush feeling I get when I speak their name, but moving beyond that is really quite easy. With seven recordings under their belt (including a 2011 release on K Records) and fresh off a European tour, Nucular Aminals have steadily tweaked their petulant, minimalist, echoed melodies into a jubilant nihilism. The organ ties it all together, adding an odd moodiness to the reconfigured psych-grunge elements that are deeply rooted in their music. There's also a fair bit of silliness that infuses the songs -- like hanging out at a rainy beach party.
Their most recent releases, Start from an End (Self Released 2012) and Alice Day (Hovercraft 2012), push the laid-back grooves, allowing the haunting vocals to seamlessly flow along with the airy beats. In a way their songs remind me of odd eulogies, but the brattiness makes me think they're hanging hammocks over the graves.