The last thing I want to do is say anything negative about Nima Kazerouni. It seems sacrilege. I mean, he’s astoundingly talented and a heck of a good guy: philanthropist, substitute teacher, consummate optimist. And, he’s been through hell and back—escaping from war-torn Iran and the ghettos of Kingston, before settling in Long Beach and becoming a bit of a local sensation. Up to this point, his band So Many Wizards’ previous EPs have been stellar and I was lucky enough to catch one of their sidewalk jam sessions in Long Beach awhile back, which left me itching for more. So, what could I possibly have to say negative about these indie blog darlings?
Well, it’s like this. I’m over the Southern California, Beach Boys/Beach House, hazy surf-pop, lo-fi sound. So I felt myself wishing only one thing as I listened to this brilliant debut: that Nima would lay off the above-mentioned vocal sound and pull back the falsetto a touch. Just a little. (OK, more than a little on Sleepwalk).
That being said, this Warm Nothing is a great album, and So Many Wizards has shown tremendous growth and ability here. The additions of drummer Erik Felix and bassist Warren Woodward are spectacular. The arrangements and melodies are beautiful, complex, exciting and unexpected in all the right places. Happy Birthday, Best Friends and Into a Daze are perfect illustrations of this, but the musicianship is forefront throughout.
Now, here’s the caveat—there are times when Nima’s vocals are stunning, and thoroughly unique, reminiscent of the voice that I fell in love with on the band’s 2010 EP, Love Songs for When You Leave Me. If only the vocals sounded more consistently like standout tracks Lose Your Mind and Deep Down, I wouldn’t conjure up a single negative thought. In my humble opinion, this is where his beautiful voice should find its home. Love it or like it — forget about hating it, you won’t — I’m still itching for more.