Tag Archives: Nots

Album of the Day: Nots, “3”

Nots’ third full-length opens with a steady bass riff and tight drumming, high-pitched guitar notes meandering in and out of the repetitive, dizzying track. Then Natalie Hoffmann enters with straightforward vocal delivery, painting a picture of despondency. The song’s subject feels lost, eyes looking down, staying “low on the sidewalk.” It brought to mind the obsessive psychosis of the protagonist of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” where a shut-in woman circles her bedroom so many times she creates a “long smooch around the wall” where her shoulder fits right in. Continue reading

Talking Truth, Politics, Emotions, and Performance with Natalie Hoffmann of Nots

Nots. Photo by Don Perry.

Nots. Photo by Don Perry.

The Memphis punk group Nots’ first album, We Are Nots, trafficked in smart hooks and smarter-mouthed observations, but their second album, Cosmetic, is less garage squall and more ominous and unhinged. It’s like a synth-heavy version of End Result. So it’s no surprise to learn that guitarist and vocalist Natalie Hoffmann found inspiration for Cosmetic in our present political dystopia. Her critiques of the function of entertainment in our society are sadly well-suited to a world in which a reality television star is, indeed, running for President.

We spoke with Hoffmann about her take on pop culture and politics in late July, just after the Republican National Convention. We’ve saved the conversation for the days running up to the election, because electoral cycle fatigue is very real—especially this year—but also because Hoffmann’s critiques are particularly poignant at the moment. Art’s ability to respond to and resist politically, and the rudimentary power dynamics at play in this election, are both topics that warrant another look.
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Must-See Bands at Gonerfest XIII

Goner Fest
Gonerfest. Photo by Memphis CVB.

One of the bigger draws at this year’s Gonerfest, an annual, weekend-long celebration of punk and garage rock in Memphis, Tennessee, is the appearance of revered rock ‘n roll classicists Reigning Sound in their original Memphis incarnation. But according to Zac Ives—co-owner, along with Eric Friedl, of Goner Records and its eponymous brick-and-mortar shop—Reigning Sound’s anticipated reunion has humble roots: “Greg [Cartwright] actually put the group back together with the Memphis lineup to do a fundraiser for my kid’s school.”

This isn’t especially surprising; Goner has always been something of a homespun affair, even as its influence has expanded across the globe. Case in point: Ives had just returned from Australia, where he attended a sort of “mini-Gonerfest.” Impressively the festival, which started in 2004, has acquired international cachet without compromising its commitment to intimacy. The event, whose headliners this year also include Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds and Dead Moon’s Fred & Toody, occurs mostly at local clubs like the Hi Tone and Murphy’s.

“Music is best served by a small place, where you feel the band and they feel you.” Ives says. “Intimacy is key. And we always open and close the fest with a show at this gazebo a few steps from the shop. Thee Oh Sees played there. Last year Ex-Cult played there. This year it’s Nots.”

Goner Records is one of the highest-profile garage-punk labels in the country, responsible for championing flag-bearing Memphis artists like Jay Reatard, and domestically representing Australian groups like Eddy Current Suppression Ring. But Ives attributed the longevity of the label and festival to keeping the operations in-house—resisting the gospel of growth. “There’s still room to do this the way we do, with a DIY mindset,” Ives explains. “We’re not going to press 20,000 copies of something or run ads in magazines. Those are things that would actually tank the project.”

In honor of the festival’s 13th year, we assembled a list of acts in the lineup well worth investigating—whether or not you’re attending the festival.

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Listen to the Death by Audio Live Compilation in Full

Ty Segall. Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Independent show spaces open and close across the country almost every month, but the shuttering of the Brooklyn venue Death by Audio in 2014 was a particularly painful sting. This is largely because the venue didn’t lose its lease to luxury condos or corporate chain stores, but to VICE, a publication that had, on its surface, long attempted to align itself with counterculture and the underground. A film about the venue’s final days, Goodnight Brooklyn, depicts VICE as tyrants and mercenaries, consistently making the venue uninhabitable in order to drive the founders out before the agreed-upon end date. The whole situation felt bitterly ironic: a large corporation that prided itself on a sense of cool actively working to unseat a venue that was, to many, the epitome of punk counterculture.

Two years later, the venue’s legacy still looms large. The triple-LP compilation Start Your Own Fucking Show Space, which we’re premiering today in full, collects notable performances from the venue’s final days, and comes packaged in a gatefold sleeve that unfolds to replicate Death by Audio’s interior, right down to the custom murals by local artists on the stage and walls. (The center panel is a picture of the stage, the left panel is the left wall, and the right panel is the right wall; if you raise the sleeve to your head, it feels like you’re standing in the space.)

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