Mr. Nasti and Laid Back | Shoe-Gaze Pop and Post-Disco Pop

Mr. Nasti, a.k.a. Nicholas Naioti

This month we shine the spotlight on a creative young musician who lives among us in Southeast Iowa and a seasoned band from Denmark. Both produce an interesting blend of beats, electronics, and melodic vocals worthy of your music collection.

Mr. Nasti

Fairfield-based Nicholas Naioti (recording under the name Mr. Nasti) hails from southwest Missouri, where he began playing drums and later picked up keyboards and bass. During his recent time in Nashville, he began exploring the music for his new CD, Truth Sound. On his website, fellow musician Christopher The Conquered describes Mr. Nasti’s new album as “a nearly flawless creation of emotional pop, lo-fi imagination realized into hi-fi dance music.”

Nicholas describes his music as “nostalgic, shoe-gaze pop.” He pulls in Fairfield- area talents Adrien (Daller) Logsdon and Taylor Ross on vocals, as well as regional artists Anna Gebhardt (vocals) and Joel Gettys (percussion).

I am especially attracted to Naioti’s use of acoustic as well as electric lead guitars and tastefully reverbed vocals that are not overly distorted, as is the case with much of synth-pop music today. Delightfully, Naioti’s music frequently ends with a few minutes of instrumental music fading away to create a haunting memory.

 “The mind starts noticing the intricacies of sound when the music repeats itself tastefully,” Nicholas reflects. “On this second album, I put attention on more concise compositions and tight arrangements.”

To sample Nicholas Naioti’s music, try these three tracks.

• “Caught Up in the Hype” has an acoustic guitar introduction that’s swept away with Nicholas’s vocals and hooky chorus. This seven-minute track comes from the self-titled first album, Mr. Nasti. At the halfway mark, it breaks into an extended upbeat instrumental charge before it returns for one final impassioned verse that fades with Tibetan Buddhist throat-drone and British female spoken words, surrounded by the echoing collective sonic swoon.

• “Change It” shows the more refined direction emerging on Truth Sound. It’s a “long way home” when you change your life.  Anna Gebhardt’s vocals sparkle and lift the song higher.

• “Never Die” is a perky, upbeat song recalling the great tradition of UK new wave bands. Taylor Ross offers confident and melodic backing vocals.

Here’s hoping that Mr. Nasti moves ahead with more compositions and performances that “keep that fire alive.”

Laid Back

The Danish duo Laid Back, consisting of John Guldberg (vocals, guitar, and bass) and Tim Stahl (vocals, keyboards, drums, and bass), have been making music since 1979. Their big hit singles “Sunshine Reggae” and “White Horse” hit the charts in 1982 and 1983, respectively. Since then, they have continued to put out additional albums leading up to the double CD Uptimistic Music (2013). Their style is described as new wave, post-disco synth-pop. 

For a good introduction to the Laid Back style, go back to the 1990 CD Bakerman for the track “Bakerman (Soulchock/Cutfather Remix)” that deftly slinks around Lou Reed-flavored spoken vocals, funky bass guitar, and subtle percussion. Enticing female backup singers complete the spell. From this defining track, you can bridge to present day and the Uptimistic album.

My proclivity towards down-tempo electronica draws me to three special tracks on Uptimistic. All three songs begin with a soothing electronic keyboard wash and then take different directions, playing off spoken word and soul ladies with their soothing background vocals.

• “Let the Music Do the Talking” begins with piano and synthesizer laying down the scene about a guy driving in his car, away from the city, thinking about a lady. When the gently bumping reggae beat and acoustic and electric guitars come in, the spoken word gives way to let the music do the talking. It’s a pleasing ride in the night air.

• “Cool Down Lover (Simple Life)” asks a lover to “cool down, don’t step on my heart.” The harmony of the chorus resonates and echoes over a continuous keyboard backdrop and an electronic guitar solo that reminds me of David Gilmour’s best slow-burn improvisations.

• “Clear Your Mind” is an exercise in name and form. The music moves at a moderate pace, combining elements of soul, reggae, and Lou Reed, with another dose of slow blues guitar clearing the way. 


Both Uptimistic Music by Laid Back and Truth Sound by Mr. Nasti provide pleasing excursions into contemporary interpretations of soul/reggae and synth- pop musical styles.                                


Join Andy on Fringe Toast every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m., Central Standard Time, on KRUU FM 100.1 in Fairfield, Iowa.