Posts filed under ‘The Notes’
Their Bated Breath named The Notes’ “Wishing Well” one of the Top 5 records of 2010. Well, the band is back with a collection of songs called “Fearless”. It features some new tracks, never-released instrumentals, as well as re-recorded classics from the “Songbook” recordings. You can download the 10-track offering for free at the group’s bandcamp page. The Notes play with an authentic Factory Years style. The music is raw and garage, the production muddied but pretty. They are part of Bleeding Gold Records. – David D. Robbins Jr.
ondon’s The Notes are a bridging of past, present and future. Their music is a fusion of pretty New Wave melodies, grimy punk bass, guitar bursts, and tinny garage-band drumming. It’s a lethal combination, deceptively sunny on the outside, torrential and teeming on the inside. Their sound is a flood of fuzz, like My Bloody Valentine or Velvet Underground with Nico. The power of the band comes from the tense balance of subdued aggression and Lauren’s beautifully fey vocals, that rest halfway between a detached nonchalance and drugged-out reverb. But that sedative aura is a bit deceiving too. There’s a hazy, dark, romantic tilt to the music, like the do-or-die passion that came from some of the Factory-era bands. It’s as if The Notes have emerged at just the right time, synthesizing everything good from England’s musical past, and transforming it with their own nuances and delicacy — announcing with a somewhat-muted bravado, “We ARE The Notes”.
Their newest record, “Wishing Well”, is colored with nostalgia — bringing back a Mancunian time of industrial landscapes reflecting the internal psychological state of a city seemingly crumbling and isolated. If you listen closely, you’ll hear a slight phonographic hiss to “Wishing Well”, giving the impression the music itself is in a state of fragility and deterioration. It’s like the famous maxim, that even in the glories of birth you’re immediately set to a path of decline. The song, “Forbidden Fruit”, feels like that — with its sensual death-knell pacing, light and loose guitar phrasing, leaving depressed steps amid the soft cavernous knocks of a drum kit. It’s part lovely ballad, part walk to the gallows: “He wants to be reckless, / Throw caution to the wind, / But his flame will soon die out, / Once he lets the tempest in / Forbidden fruit, / Forbidden fruit, / Thinking all the things he shouldn’t do.”
There’s an undertow of desolation in their sound, but it’s balanced by pinnacles of passion, like that found in the music and lyricism of “Those Days, Those Nights”: “Thinking back to our younger days, / We were alive in so many ways, / There’s no tomorrow, there’s just today, / We’ll drink all night and in the morning we will pay / All there was, / Was you and I, / My liquid hands and your glittering eyes.” On the surface, The Notes’ music is heightened with emotional upheaval, but underneath it’s grounded in the temporal dust, much like the passionate gloom of bands like Joy Division, who also reveled in the sorrowful knowledge that all good things must come to an end.
The longer you listen to The Notes, the more clear it becomes, this band really is the coherence of its parts. Taken individually, you may not be as impressed — but together they’re absolute perfection. It’s a congeal of enchantment. Lauren’s vocals are sung shyly. Imagine the allure of a sexy front-woman who sings with the refreshing humility of a grade-school child made to give a speech in front of her classmates. Their bassist plays deep, groaning, but quick notes that form the engine behind the band’s tightly wound rhythmic advancement. The lead guitarist provides jolts of highly creative energy with his sky-rocketing flare-ups.
The Notes’ music is the place where the idyllic smashes headfirst into reality. The first track, “Awake”, off their new record, opens with lyrics about confronting life’s harsh realities, “I don’t want to do this anymore, oh / It’s taken all that I have got and more, / It has pushed my face into the floor, oh /And I just don’t know quite what it’s all for.” Their music gushes in short fits of pure mood and expression. There isn’t a song on the 12-track record that goes over the 3-minute mark. Just as you’ve sunk into the the cool chasmal depths of one track, it’s over and another wave comes to replace it. There’s a real measured maturity to “Wishing Well”, and a feeling that something quite magical is happening.
Note: “Wishing Well” is one of the best releases of 2010, and I’m elated to have heard it in the waning months, a part of the year when good releases are usually falling away. This record is a must-buy. Who knows, you may be listening to one of the best bands around. You can also download their six-song EP, “Introducing The Notes”, for free at the band’s bandcamp site. It includes a few tracks that will be on the new record. My apologies for only listing the first name of the lead singer, but the trio’s names are only listed as Lauren, Sam and Aaron in all their available biographical info.