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Nova Social dates back to 1996, when guitarist/vocalist David Nagler formed Stretch with Thom Soriano (bass) and Steve Pilgrim (drums). The band spent the next few years cutting its teeth on the New York City and New Jersey club scenes; with the addition of guitarist Michael Esper, Nagler's clever, adroit pop songs were buoyed by a more aggressive delivery. The 1998 EP Don't Settle for Walking, released on Big Sleep Records, revealed this perfectly: wry power pop tunes dished out by a tight band able to go from hyper rock numbers to nakedly emotional ballads. After Esper left the group, the name was changed to Nova Social and the band continued as a trio. During this period, Nagler was also active as a musician outside of his own group, spending time performing and arranging music with alt-country singer/songwriter Chris Mills, whom he met while both were students at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Nova Social began working on its full-length debut, The Jefferson Fracture, in the spring of 1999, but had to deal with the loss of drummer Pilgrim halfway through the sessions. This didn't stop Nagler and Soriano from releasing an early-2000 double A-side containing two stand-outs from the sessions, the manic and paranoid "Fingerprints" and the spry, piano-heavy "Horse Song, Pt. 1." The duo recruited many talented performers to help complete the album: avant-garde guitarist and arranger David First, alt-country luminaries Deanna Varagona (Lambchop) and Michael Daly (Whiskeytown), and the modern classical ensemble the Flux String Quartet. The final result, The Jefferson Fracture (released midway through 2002, also on Big Sleep), was a far more diverse and accomplished affair than the 1998 EP, revealing Nagler to be a gifted and fearless songwriter and Soriano to be a master of odd sounds and quirky arrangements. Both musicians had a hand in stirring up the pot in N.Y.C.'s music scene: For most of 2001, they hosted and curated Nova Nights, an eclectic evening of music that took place in a comfy, couch-filled basement called the Den of Cin, normally a screening house for independent films. A bevy of artists from a multitude of genres (avant-garde jazz, spoken word, acoustic pop, experimental rock) appeared throughout the year.
Adding keyboardist Kristopher John and drummer Jay Dodds, the band recorded 2007's Other Words from Tomorrow's Dictionary before reverting back to a duo of Nagler and Soriano for 2009's self-titled EP Nova Social, which signaled a turn toward dance-influenced pop.