Nots – “Entertain Me” (Stereogum Premiere)
On Nots’ appropriately-titled 2014 debut We Are Nots, the Memphis four-piece communicated deeply ingrained rage with grinding punk rock that could be called dystopian if the band’s targets weren’t so very real. Lead vocalist Natalie Hoffman sounded like a less sultry Fever to Tell-era Karen O, and held a commanding composure whilst singing with an uninhibited urgency. On album highlight “Black Mold,” Hoffman and her battalion of bandmates shouted in bludgeoning unison “There is no home!” as if they sincerely meant none. Nots never stop to smell the roses, and you’re more likely to find battery acid staining their clothes than spilled beer.
The band is back for a follow-up LP entitled Cosmetic, and if lead single “Entertain Me” is anything to go off of, it’s going to be an equally corrosive collection. “Entertain me/ Tell me what you see,” Hoffman bursts out snarling after a minute and a half of knotty, incendiary build-up. The abrasive front is nothing new for the band, but it’s never sounded this vital. Hoffman plays guitar like her strings just caught fire and she’s maneuvering around the flames; her tone is so blistering it sounds like she’s plugged into a tube amp made out of a refashioned airplane turbine. Yet it’s Alexandra Eastburn’s synthesizer work that truly steals the show. She was the secret weapon of the band’s debut, elevating We Are Nots with her squirming, hostile textures, and here manages to somehow be an even more prominent force despite taking a more subtle approach. At seven minutes, “Entertain Me” is the almost thrice the length of most of Nots’ previous output, but every moment of it is essential.
Hoffman shared some background on the track:
“Entertain Me” is a song in a constant state of movement and deterioration around one central, repeating part. No two live versions of it sound the same. Drawing influences from experimental no wave, postpunk, and psychedelic music, “Entertain Me” takes its cues from the edges of genres, where one begins to blend into another, and nothing is easily classified. The lyrics reflect the cyclical, distorted nature of the song, addressing different facets of the grotesque horror show going on in American politics and how they are portrayed- the rise of Trump, the reality-TV-like nature of American news, the almost-forced compliance of the viewer, and the for-profit-constructed “right” of the viewer, the consumer, to require constant entertainment in order to participate, and to live.
01 “Blank Reflection”
02 “Rat King”
03 “Cold Line”
04 “New Structures”
06 “No Novelty”
07 “Inherently Low”
08 “Fluorescent Sunset”
09 “Entertain Me”
07/02 Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Rock + Roll Carnival
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07/09 Savannah, GA @ The Jinx
07/10 Jacksonville, FL @ The Headlamp
07/13 Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub
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07/15 Tampa, FL @ New World Brewery
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09/16-09/18 – Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest