It has been more than a year since the seminal act Them Hills has played Nevada County. This Saturday, it returns to perform for the first time songs off of the forthcoming third album, “Rad Disguise,” at the Haven Underground. Joining Them Hills are Ghost Pines and This Is Radiation, two promising Nevada County rock bands.
Best known for its low-fi indie rock, Them Hills features the talents of Nevada County-bred guitarist/singer Dan Elkan, bassist Thaddeus Stoenner and new guitarist Justin Hunt, along with former local David Torch on drums. In 2005, after the breakup of their former band, Pocket for Corduroy, Elkan and Stoenner formed Them Hills.
They had a clear idea of what they wanted — a trio that allowed them to approach music from an almost minimalist punk aesthetic with unorthodox structures.
Them Hills released “Greener Grassing” in 2007. The album was recorded by Dana Gumbiner of Brighton Sound in Sacramento and Station To Station in Grass Valley and co-produced by Zach Hill. The band hit the road and performed two different West Coast tours with The Advantage and played a few West Coast dates with The Thermals.
By end of 2008, Them Hills was ready to record its next record. This time, the group wanted to present the songs in a way that would more closely resemble the way it sounds live. It went into the studio with sound engineer Manny Nieto, who was then working on The Breeders record “Mountain Battles.” Even before Them Hills released its second album, “Process,” in 2009, it was demoing songs for what would become its album “Rad Disguise.”
“Rad Disguise” is the band’s most fully realized album. In between recordings, the band has been busy with personal and other professional projects. Stoenner has performed with several local groups, including his band Black Bear. Torch moved to New York City and is a photographer for The New York Times. And Elkan relocated to Los Angeles and has performed live with Broken Bells, Hella and Kim Deal (The Pixies, The Breeders) and has appeared on recordings by Hella, Team Sleep (featuring members of the Deftones), Norah Jones and Zach Hill (Death Grips).
Headlining the show is Ghost Pines, showcasing its dreamy pop a la Best Coast, The Drums and Joy Division. The group formed in the fall of 2011, practicing in an attic at the end of an otherwise unremarkable alley in downtown Nevada City. With Jacob Bradford on drums, Andrew Collins on bass and Robbie Landsburg on guitar and vocals, the band began forging its unique approach to music with the raw sounds of indie grunge rock fused with the textural melodies of psychedelic math rock. Inspired by the diverse music scene of Nevada County and surrounding areas, Ghost Pines follows in the footsteps of other experimental rockers native to Northern California, while simultaneously forging its own path through the sonic landscapes it explores.
Local rockers This Is Radiation, featuring Beni Ross, Zach Peach and Leif Bonfils, will open the show.