Nots make jazz (finally!)

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3 out of 4 members of Nots performed last Friday, at the Glitch Gallery in Memphis. Their set was an improv jazz set, the kind Art Blakey and other jazzmen of the late fifties and early sixties recorded for Blue Note. A mix of standards and original compositions, with improvised solos.

We suspected Natalie Hoffman looked at jazz for musical inspiration. Her minimalist guitar work on the album “We Are Nots” seems unrehearsed.

But sadly, I missed this, because I live 2,096.1 km from Memphis, in Canada, in the city of Montreal. The show was titled “Never Again” so this will probably never reoccur. Nobody recorded it either.


Nots – “Shelf Life” (Live)

“Shelf Life” could have fit easily on the “We Are Nots” album.

Like “Fix”, but more intense. Most of the underground rock scene hasn’t realized yet that Nots is the most politicized pop band in the United States. Their genre is punk, but they have a groove beneath them that is authentic soul, and Memphis blues. That’s already political without delving into the lyrical content.

Lyrically, it is a sequel to their song “Reactor” (‘We say what we have to, to get by’). Except here there is no metaphor here, it is literally about an actor:

Replay, repeat, your scenes,
No rest, no sleep, learn to compete
your shelf life awaits

Finding any precedents to Nots remains extremely puzzling. The Britpunk comparisons journalists often make are unjustified to me. Take the dub-influenced punk of Androids of Mu next to a Nots song and the difference is striking. Nots’ song structures are tighter, the changeups faster, and the vocals aggressive.

Think of the minimalism of The Ramones but without that bubblegum crap. With longer and dirtier riffs, and weird one-note guitar improvisations. Put in some explosive drumwork with snappy fills, add some cinematic sci-fi synths, and make everything loop. Think lo-fi, then think recorded live. Think girl gang, and then think Public Enemy.

Not a strange blend after all.

You can purchase this single on clear vinyl and original black vinyl. The cover art looks sick, and it was done by Alexandra Eastburn who also holds down synth duties. The sticker labels on the records are equally cool. The insert has the lyrics which are some of Natalie’s best.

If you want to see Nots live this year, in what has become an unmissable event, they will be performing again at Gonerfest 12. Buy tickets, and go visit Memphis, while partying with the global punk underground.


Nots are a quartet from Memphis with Natalie Hoffman on vocals/guitar, Charlotte Watson on drums, Alexandra Eastburn on synth, and Madison Farmer on bass.

The “Virgin Mary” single  is available for order here.

Their debut album “We Are Nots” (2014) is available for streaming here, and for order here.

Nots’ previous single “Fix” is available for streaming here, and for purchase here.

Nots’ debut single “Dust Red” (2013) is available for streaming here and for purchase here.

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