Audio Mixers: Keith Cooper; Andrew McCalla.
Recording information: Memphis, tennessee (2016).
Memphis-based foursome Nots described themselves as "weird punk" on the release of their debut album, We Are Nots, in 2014. Two years later, Nots sound a bit more ambitious and accomplished on their sophomore effort, 2016's Cosmetic, but thankfully they're no less weird than they were before. Cosmetic finds the band sounding tighter and better focused on most of these nine songs, and a few of the sharper edges in Natalie Hoffmann's guitar work have softened along the way. But the clanky report of her axe still hits hard, and keyboard player Alexandra Eastburn continues to spread waves of expressive and compelling electronic skronk all over these tunes. New bassist Meredith Lones sounds as solid and effective as her predecessor as she lays down a subsonic bottom end. And Charlotte Watson's drumming manages to sound manic and on point at the same time. The main difference between We Are Nots and Cosmetic is a matter of intensity; while the first album exploded all over the place, Cosmetic builds steadily over the course of its running time to the taut fury of "Inherently Low," the atonal menace of "Fluorescent Sunset," and the extended finale of "Entertain Me." It's hard to imagine Nots even trying to pull off a seven-minute track on the basis of We Are Nots, but "Entertain Me" is a descent into the noisy maelstrom that succeeds, and suggests the band is finding new ways to direct its attack. Cosmetic is a strong step forward for Nots that builds on their strengths and gives their weirdness some new and interesting places to go. ~ Mark Deming