The Nits C/D S/D

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The Nits, Holland's answer to XTC or tedious Europap. Please help.

Santadog, Friday, 6 August 2004 09:45 (fifteen years ago) link

I need to get my friend Stripey to post to this -- she's the only Nits fan I know, and she loves them dearly. What I've heard from them was actually quite good!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 6 August 2004 11:40 (fifteen years ago) link

Love The Nits, gots all they rekkids.

Brad Laner (Brad Laner), Friday, 6 August 2004 17:07 (fifteen years ago) link

You ring sir?

(see, I do sometimes respond to summoning...)

Well, in terms of creativity and catchy melodies, NITS are right on par with XTC. They are a sort of XTC that you can play at a dinner party without offending your guests. As I often have (referring to playing them at a dinner party, that is, not referring to offending my guests! -- at least I hope not!...).

A more apt comparison would be Blue Nile though, not XTC. Both bands have that same sort of jazzy sound and hopeful dreaminess to their music and lyrics. But NITS are slightly "artier" than Blue Nile I feel, and from what I've heard, their live shows can sometimes be more like Laurie Anderson or Philip Glass than like conventional concerts. I've never been to one though.

Sometimes this band can be overly whimsical, true, but that's quite refreshing I think, when the only things playing on the radio these days are jock-rock, nu-metal, fake angst, and other "shouty", unhappy genres. I think people with a soft spot for twee, will like this band too, even though it isn't all that similar to twee in instrumentation.
Talk Talk fans who have a space in their hearts for the earlier Talk Talk albums as well as the later, will probably like this band also, as they can sometimes be hushed and experimentally precussive too.

So where to start?

I recommend starting with "Ting", their masterpiece from 1992. Not only is it an excellent, moody, spacious album but it's also got one of my favorite booklets of all time. The interior pages of the booklet are printed on sheer vellum, with pictures of the band that were taken while leaning against a big sheet of glass, so that their hands and faces are distorted by the pressure from the glass. The result is that the lyrics appear to be overlapping and smothering the band, and the band look as though they are trying to push the lyrics away and break out of the booklet! (how's that for symbolism?) ;)

[someone told me that this is a limited edition though, so your copy might not have the vellum, which would be a pity].

Next, I'd recommend the mini-album "Hat" (see what I mean about those Blue Nile similarities?)It's quiet and moody and lovely. And the pictures are excellent also. Mostly interior shots of a very small room.

Third in line would be the more upbeat, XTC-like "Giant Normal Dwarf" -- again, with excellent graphics to match. I'm not sure who does their album design, but whoever it is, they're really on target -- new ideas each time, but with an atmosphere that is consistantly "NITS-like" and recognizable over the years.

For more info about the band, go here :

stripey, Friday, 6 August 2004 18:08 (fifteen years ago) link

Great! You all rock....thank you!

mzui, Friday, 6 August 2004 19:22 (fifteen years ago) link

ten years pass...

"For this reason the Nits are one of the most subtle groups, because they have this very rare cultural heritage... For example you remember this song, "Nescio"? I thought that it was just a Latin word. By going to the Netherlands I discovered that Nescio was in fact a writer, it's a little Kafka or the Dutch Robert Walser. He wrote three new, that are among the finest ever written on youth, "The Young Titans" including. He never revealed his true identity and it became one of the leading figures in Dutch literature. A revelation for me, thanks to the Nits... They remain one of very few groups to have developed a strictly continental imaginary linked to Belgian surrealism, German Expressionism, with a kind of melancholy Mitteleuropa, at the crossing between the Netherlands, the Germany of the 1920s, all attached to a history of the classic Anglo-Saxon songwriting: Lennon, Dylan, Cohen, a very rare Alchemy... They evoke the imagination which is worn by no other group in the history of pop. And what singer! What voices! They wrote at least fifty songs absolutely gorgeous, and there's still two or three songs that I find beautiful, even in the last albums in "Nights", "1974", even in not very good as albums "Alankomaat" ("Three Sisters") and "Wool" ('Ivory Boy')... Ignorance that the Anglo-Saxons of such a group, it is crazy... The Nits, it should be at least as important as XTC, if not more! They had everything: charisma, voice, songs, references. "Giant Normal Dwarf", I think this is one of my ten top favourite of all time. This report to the children, the toy box that you open, illustrated books, fairy tales... No album in the history of the rock does this impression then reopen trunk treasures of childhood... It is so beautiful. In "Faber ", I believe that and I quote "Moon Moon" and "The Night-Owl"."

^ random machine-translation from French via, which I stumbled across while looking for the Walter Gropius line from Denim's "Council Houses" ... IDK, with the upthread mentions of Talk Talk/Laurie Anderson etc, figure this could be worth reviving.

etc, Thursday, 30 July 2015 09:56 (four years ago) link

that's sweet.

I just got this one this year

live double album. a big hit back in the day.

i have fond childhood memories of this one

almost like an ep. but it feels like a proper album, still sounds great, warm and noirish.

must admit Nits can be irritatingly intellctual too.. at times.

Ludo, Thursday, 30 July 2015 11:01 (four years ago) link

i made that typo on purporse, of course.

Ludo, Thursday, 30 July 2015 11:01 (four years ago) link

Thanks for the info. I've been big into Supersister recently and I'm glad to hear Stips went onto another great band.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 30 July 2015 11:36 (four years ago) link

Man I could talk about this band till the cows come home, I've been steadily obsessing over the Nits for a few years now (I started this thread, but it took years for them to really sink in).

Once you learn to deal with the occasional eighties synths (and we're not talking cool, retro synths, we're talking a *lot* of synth brass) their back catalogue opens up and it's mostly pretty damn great, even right up to present day. I travelled to Leiden to see them play this year, and apart from not understanding the between song stories it was a total thrill to see them play.

So yeah, lovingly created art-pop, if anybody wants a starter mix, just shout and I'll paste it up.

MaresNest, Thursday, 30 July 2015 13:08 (four years ago) link

I'd be keen for that starter mix, MaresNest, if you've the time! They've quite an overwhelming back catalogue.

etc, Friday, 31 July 2015 11:08 (four years ago) link

Heya, I've knocked a few tracks together and made an 80 min mix of stuff, it doesn't go right to the 2000's stuff very much or else it'd be much longer, but it's a pretty good mix different eras.

Will post a link when it has run off and uploaded.

MaresNest, Friday, 31 July 2015 19:26 (four years ago) link

Here y'go...

MaresNest, Saturday, 1 August 2015 08:37 (four years ago) link

Cheers! Had Great Firewall shenanigans here in the PRC so sent it to a NZ friend who rerouted it my way; looking forward to getting to grips w/it.

etc, Monday, 3 August 2015 09:38 (four years ago) link

Sorry for giving you the runaround, hope you like it...!

MaresNest, Monday, 3 August 2015 19:55 (four years ago) link

three weeks pass...

thanks to this thread and it's recent 'bump' i listened to

for the first time, and it's indeed a very fine album.

Ludo, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 19:29 (four years ago) link


MaresNest, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:31 (four years ago) link

four months pass...

Bump to say that all of their back catalogue is now up on Spotify.

MaresNest, Sunday, 3 January 2016 14:52 (four years ago) link

two months pass...
one month passes...

Going to see them Nits in Amsterdam in December, can't wait, just leaves the interesting proposition of flying out of Amsterdam on New Year's Eve

MaresNest, Monday, 2 May 2016 21:12 (four years ago) link

Oh, sweet!

That Geert Buelens paper is a good read.

etc, Monday, 2 May 2016 22:11 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

New album out mid September! -

angst is the first NITS studio album since it's predecessor 'Malpensa' (2012). It was recorded spring '17 at the NITS' home-base studio 'de Werf ' in Amsterdam. The album contains all new tracks, written by NITS trio Henk Hofstede (also taking care of the lyrics), Rob Kloet and Robert Jan Stips.

angst is the story told of the occupation and liberation of Holland and life in post-war Germany. Elvis on a train trip along the Rhine in the 50's. Riding on a moped through Germany heading for the south. Grandmother knitting a sweater to protect you against the cold and the unknown.

MaresNest, Thursday, 17 August 2017 15:13 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

Listened to Ting four times so far. It's very good, all the comparisons above make sense. Seems like the best tracks are in the first half though, but we'll see if I change my mind soon.

My copy said limited edition but maybe it's one of those things that really wasn't that limited and perhaps the only version.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 12 October 2018 19:05 (one year ago) link

How is the new album?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 12 October 2018 19:05 (one year ago) link

I stand by my assessment that the first half of Ting is much better but "Nightfall" is one of the highlights, with its gliding piano sounds.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 26 October 2018 16:26 (one year ago) link

The newest album is more eccentric and minimal than a mainstream chamber pop band of advancing years have any right to release, a loose suite of very personal songs about how Dutch people coped during WW2 and it's aftermath with a lot of Henk's personal recollections of his elder relatives.

On initial listens it's very low key and perhaps takes a bit of getting used with, but it unfolds beautifully after a couple of listens.

Lits Jumeaux might be my favourite song, it's the story of two young neighbours, boys, one inspired by fascism and one by American pop culture separated by the thin wall of their terraced dwelling.

MaresNest, Friday, 26 October 2018 16:48 (one year ago) link

And yeah, Ting is kinda front-loaded with a few beloved Nits songs.

MaresNest, Friday, 26 October 2018 16:48 (one year ago) link

Hjuvi has four songs on it (two from Ting, but where are the other two from?), rest are orchestra pieces, including a complete copy of Beach Boys "California Girls"!

This version of "Cars & Cars" is okay but the version of "Night Fall" is really something.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 2 November 2018 18:48 (one year ago) link

The other two songs are 'Ting' era B Sides, from the Cars & Cars single.

MaresNest, Friday, 2 November 2018 19:11 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Still haven't got fully into all the orchestra pieces but I need to give this one a rest and come back to it in a couple of years. There are a lot of good moments though.

Lyrics of "Moved By Her" seem to contrast with the peeping tom lyrics.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 23 November 2018 16:37 (one year ago) link

four weeks pass...

I travelled over to see them in Amsterdam this week, they played in an old church in the outhern canal district now called De Duif (The Dove), it was a lovely venue.

The performance was brilliant, best I'd seen them. It was obvious they had been working live most of the year and were really sharp but relaxed and stretching the dynamics of the older songs and all the weird noisy layers on the Angst songs were to the forefront, I guess I won't be hearing the album in full again, so it was great to hear one more time.

Lot's or Robert Jan related stuff on Dutch TV over the next few days for some reason and you can see a rebroadcast of the Hijuvi concert here -

MaresNest, Saturday, 22 December 2018 13:09 (one year ago) link

Cool, might watch that soon.

You mean you wont be hearing Angst live in full again?

Lyrics of "Moved By Her" seem to contrast with the peeping tom lyrics.
― Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, November 23, 2018 4:37 PM

Meant to say the sound of the song contrasted with the lyrics.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 22 December 2018 15:40 (one year ago) link

Yeah, when I saw them earlier in the year they played the whole record and this week they played all of it except for Breitner On A Kreidler for some reason.

MaresNest, Saturday, 22 December 2018 16:05 (one year ago) link

six months pass...


In The Dutch Mountains - I think I like this a bit better than Ting (as good as that was). Two of my favorite songs on it are upbeat with nostalgic melancholy choruses ("J.O.S. Days" and "An Eating House") and two others with a more subtle downbeat feel are just as good ("Two Skaters" and "The Swimmer"). "Mountain Jan" and "Moon And Stars" are also great (are they using a similar string instrument?).

I see that the final three tracks weren't on the original vinyl version. It does make some sense to end with "Goodnight" but I would miss "Moon And Stars", though I never really dug "Magic Of Lassie" or "Strangers In The Night" that much.

Daddy be hungry

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 5 July 2019 15:56 (ten months ago) link

ITDM is their imperial phase really, the resulting live album Urk is a testament to that.

It was also apparently recorded live to two-track as a reaction to the overproduction they felt happened with Adieu Sweet Bahnhof, which explains the big bass clanger in the middle of Two Skaters.

Nostalgic melancholy is a keystone of this era of Nits really, the last couple of times I saw them Henk had started singing that poignant last verse of JOS Days in Dutch, then when I saw them late last year he was singing the whole song in Dutch for some reason.

MaresNest, Friday, 5 July 2019 21:40 (ten months ago) link

three months pass...

New album 'Knot' (a very Nits-ish title) coming in November!

Maresn3st, Saturday, 5 October 2019 09:31 (seven months ago) link

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