Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Love Me Nots: In Black & White

The Love Me Nots

In Black & White
Atomic A Go Go Records

There's a lot to be said about Phoenix, Arizona's The Love Me Nots, but as a band that has an almost worldwide buzz right now, almost everything I wanted to say about them has already been said. 2 gals, two guys, and a lot of Farfisa and Fuzz! You can't go wrong there. Those words just sound too enticing together. So the elements are there. A lot of bands have those elements and play differing versions of the same things: garage, surf, 60's r and b, and hard rock soul. The Love Me Nots don't pull "it" off. Instead, they rock, groove, swing, wail, shimmy, and shake so hard that you'll wish you could say they were always your favorite band in the world. After you hear and see them, they will be.

Like I said, the musical elements are there, but you'll be amazed at what all those things combined create. Lead vocalist/Farfisa mistress extraordinaire just sizzles. .. in Tight,' the opening track on on their 2006 debut Black and White, every phrase is a command that causes your subconscious to just obey it. "Move a little closer, yeah, move in tight! Move a little to the left, move a little to the right." Vocalist/Farfisa mistress indeed, but I'm only talking about her voice so far. She also plays the organ (the musical instrument, guys!) with the same ferocity used for her singing. It's up front, loud, spy novel/Munsters groove that takes center stage in between her drill sergeant commands. In fact, if you watch the video clip for "Move In Tight," you'll notice the Farfisa as at her side so she can face the audience to give them the full effect of her presence.

That's just Nicole, you've got the rest of 'em to contend with now. Michael Johny Walker is a maestro who punches in just that right amount acid drenched surf guitar fuzz, and I mean lots of it by "just the right amount," which is really needed to compete with the presence of Nicole on tracks like "Keep Talking." Drummer Jay Lien pounds out the loudest, tightest, fast but most perfect garage rock dance beat while Phoenix musical veteran Christina Nunez matches it with her tight bass equally to keep the rest in line. This is truly a great band. Nicole stands out at first, but all of them play and rock just as loud and dominating as her.

Other tracks keep up the tempo and show off the real powers of The Love Me Nots. "Voice In My Head" is foot stomping, cave pounding one-two beat fuzz rocker that that will imprint this band as the voice in your head, while "Keep Talking" is a full out buzzsaw guitar, spooky organ, up tempo, shimmy and shake, girl seduces boy themed song that's unforgettable. Unlike the CD title, The Love Me Nots are not black and white. Slower, more bass led tracks like "Cry" sound like a soundtrack for the end of the road, smoky bar in a film noir movie when a main character is about to get shot while the tough but sad sounding, female led band is so good that the fatal gunshots are overshadowed by the music. Then there's the epic "Alley" that would make any guy, or girl for that matter, melt in seduction to the slow groove and lyrics like "Every hand tries to pick me up, every man with a plan is a sucker" followed up with "Let's do it right here in the alley, do it real slow and trashy, your lips are hard and dizzy, even when your hands are freezing."

The Love Me Nots are getting a lot of press lately. It's no surprise. Nicole is an incredible Farfisa player who can take command with it, but has a phenomenal vocal power and range that can go from a cool seductress to the wailing, up front blues singer without the rye soaked, cigarette burned scratchiness of one. That rasp is replaced with an almost forceful, lower toned voice that demands of you to listen. Michael Johny Walker can wail his guitar in such a way that everyone takes notice and rocks along, Add in Christina Nunez plays so well that it forces the other two to compliment each other, then Jay Lien's swampy, tribal beat keep them all marching in line but is so loud and fast that the rest of the band has to keep up with him. In fact, they all seem to be leading and following each other at the same time, which one probably cannot think of a better compliment to a band; they all play lead and they all play for each other.

This is one great band! You need to see them soon. It's likely to be your last chance to see them in a small bar. They've had rave reviews all over the map from writers, fellow musicians, and fans alike. In fact, they're getting a lot of attention right now. Black & White was helmed by Jim Diamond as both engineer and producer, so the sound is raw but still clear. They also recently finished recording and mixing their soon to be available second release with him.

Garage rock is a great genre because of its basic formula. As my other reviews have noted, when it's done right, it's incredible because it holds up as real rock 'n roll: basic, loud, and fun to dance to, which results in a strong connection between the band and the audience. There are a lot of great bands out there that can do this and do it well. The Love Me Nots have something extra. I don't know what it is, but you can tell when you hear them. They are going to become the band that EVERYONE wants to play/tour with. That's not just my prediction, it's in almost everything I've read about them. Go see them, buy Black and White, then keep your ears open for their new release, because there's a strong likelihood that they'll become one "the" garage bands and won't be playing small clubs anymore in the very near future.

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