Band of the Day

2012.03.28

Nite Jewel

An L.A. artist molds R&B, pop and electronics into a contemporary echo of mainstream 80s divas
Lover, when you make me come alive, lover, when you take me, I could die. Hold me, hold me tonight.
lyrics from Lover

Nite Jewel is the alias of Los Angeles based musician Ramona Gonzalez. Raised in Berkeley, CA, Gonzalez attended school briefly in New York before enrolling at L.A. liberal arts college Occidental to study philosophy. First releasing music in 2008, Gonzalez's early work was hazy, lo-fi tracks inspired by R&B, pop and disco, causing her to be grouped in with the chillwave trend. Gonzalez has continued to steadily release a stream of EPs, 12”, and other records on a grab bag of the U.S.'s hippest indie labels including, Mexican Summer, Italians Do It Better, Human Ear and Gloriette. Her prominence in indie circles grew slowly but steadily, and her highly anticipated first album for label Secretly Canadian was released on March 6th, 2012.

Nite Jewel was one of the brightest emerging acts of the late 2000s chillwave trend, and she's joined Toro y Moi and others in another heartening trend -evolving beyond chillwave's stick everything under delay and reverb aesthetic. The alias of L.A. based Ramona Gonzalez, Nite Jewel's newest album One Second of Love retains the airy, dreamy ease of her earlier work, but brushes away some of the murk in favor of crisper production. The result combines tasteful electronic textures with 80s mainstream pop and even R&B touches that suit her surprisingly well. Lead single “One Second of Love” is a muscular electro-pop cut with thick low-end synths sounding like slap bass and Ramona's forceful vocals, almost like Swedish pop star Robyn. The chorus is nothing more than the wistfully repeated line “Oh who has one second of love?” and a dreamy sighing synth, but that's all it takes for a powerful effect. “She's Always Watching You” is a playful mix of sunny ska guitar, tinny synths (cooler than it sounds) and Ramona's vocals layered together in gorgeous harmonies. “In The Dark” is sultry electro-R&B, and one of the album's best tracks. Gonzalez's voice dips to husky lows then shoots up to falsetto hooks over a minimal echo laden beat. The chorus vocals sounds like some forgotten 80s pop radio ballad, but sandwiched between rich synths and that beat -like she's trying to steal the mojo from the rising British star James Blake. The rest of One Second of Love plays with these same key elements, way more R&B on the make-out jam “Autograph,” frolic-ing electro-pop on “Memory Man,” spacy dreamscapes on “Clive.” Gonzalez has boldly stepped out of the reverb and carved her own sound on One Second of Love, and the resulting mix of pop, R&B and electronics is very much of the moment, but still very much her own.