CMJ - "Nots have become a fearsome foursome, honed their group yell, nervous drum slapping, slightly echoed grinding guitar and three-finger keyboard whirring..."
Recording information: Memphis, TN (2014).
Natalie Hoffmann, the former Ex-Cult bassist who now plays guitar as the leader of Nots, was asked to describe her band's music during a television appearance, and she offhandedly coined the phrase "weird punk." That designation may have been tossed off, but it certainly fits -- on Nots' debut album, We Are Nots, they sound very punk (though pre-hardcore) and more than a little weird, as their tough, elemental rock & roll tunes run up against Hoffmann's solos, which generate pointed fragments of reverb-soaked noise bursting forth like shards of aural shrapnel, and Alexandra Eastburn's keyboards, which percolate with post-melodic electronic blurts, howls, and shrieks. At its best, We Are Nots suggests Allen Ravenstine of Pere Ubu jamming with the Urinals, though Nots are a shade tighter than either band, and while they seem aware of the history of punk's more chaotic offshoots, on this album they sound more like stylistic contemporaries than followers. Hoffmann's vocals recall the angry, dismissive cries of a million misfit kids given force and power with a PA and an electric guitar, while Eastburn's keys are a triumph of imagination over oppressive technique and bassist Madison Farmer and drummer Charlotte Watson sound powerful and agile at each turn. Most of We Are Nots seems purposefully simple, but also quite clever in the way the noise complements the tunes rather than drowning them out, and the bandmembers attack their music with a touch that's emphatic but loving at the same time. We Are Nots may not be the last word in the phantom subgenre of weird punk, but if you want to know how to make your punk weird in the right way, you would be well advised to give Nots your attention. ~ Mark Deming