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Songs We Love: Air Waves, 'Thunder'

Air Wave's new album, <em>Parting Glances</em>, comes out Sept. 18.
Air Wave's new album, <em>Parting Glances</em>, comes out Sept. 18.

It happens all the time: We see someone walking down the street, sitting on a train, or standing in line, maybe make eye contact for a split second — and then go on with our day. Normally, we don't give those interactions much thought. But for Nicole Schneit, the New York songwriter behind Air Waves, momentary connections provoke wonder: "We encounter each other in the thick of our complex lives by simply looking at each other all the time," Schneit says. "These glances are mundane and fleeting but also powerfully intimate." That curiosity and empathy not only informs the name of Air Waves' new album, Parting Glances (a title also inspired by a 1986 Steve Buscemi-starring film of the same name), but also embodies her work.

On Parting Glances, Schneit's songs play out like short vignettes that recount observations and anecdotes. Her lyrics offer glimpses into complicated feelings about love, identity, and getting by in New York with a concise economy that feels both immediate and lived-in. That's particularly true of "Thunder," which features some just below-the-surface harmony from Lower Dens' Jana Hunter.

The song opens with restraint: A wiry electric guitar plays while Schneit describes a seemingly tense moment: "'It's time to get away,' she said, as the pictures fall from the wall / Should we pick them up or throw them away?" But upon each subsequent verse, the music blooms. As the music erupts — first with spare snare hits and droning organ, and then a stormy mess of distorted chords and drum machine beats — Schneit's intimate words become more abstruse, but no less evocative: "And I'm dancing in the twilight / I got my head up in the sky / Can you feel the vibrations as we start to fly?"

Parting Glances is out on Sept. 18 on Western Vinyl.

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