Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nothington Is On Borrowed Time

After touring around together with Tsunami Bomb until it broke up in 2006, Jay Northington and Gabe Lindeman started kicking around ideas about what to do next. Both of them were eager to do something for different reasons — Northington had been the newest member and Lindeman one of the longest standing.

So Northington, irritated with his musical situation and the industry, wrote a few songs and asked Lindeman to play with him in an old woodshop in Petaluma, Calif. The practice times alone were enough to entice them back to their punk rock roots. They scraped together enough money to put out a few demos.

The combination of soulful songwriting and punk-infused arrangements caught on well enough to attract the interest of two more musicians. Longtime friends Chris Matalich and Mike Hicks were the next to sign on, rounding out a four-member band for BYO Records in 2007.

Borrowed Time straddles more alternative rock than punk. 

Like their previous albums, Borrowed Time is recorded with Scott Llamas at PopSmear Records in San Francisco. But this time around, Nothington sticks with Red Scare Industries, the label that recently released their folksy 6-track acoustic outlaw country punk EP, More Than Obvious, in July.

Borrowed Time is nothing like More Than Obvious. It's best described as an 11-track album that fall somewhere in between their first releases with an addictive new style. So what's different?

The album from is more collaborative, has more melody, and includes more mic time with Northington. Even Matalich sounds gruffer on the new album, apparently to create a better balance with his bandmate. You can catch some of it about 15 minutes into this full set clip captured in Bakersfield, Calif.

While the vocals are undercut in the video compared to the audio-only clip of Don't Have To Wait, it makes for a fine introduction. It shows that Nothington knows how to play a small crowd as well as the bigger venues they typically hit while touring Europe.

It's not surprising. Nothington might list their home in Northern California, but they've said on more than one occasion that their real home is wherever they happen to tour. It has to be. Like many bands that pick music as a full-time profession today, touring helps them keep it together financially. Home is the road.

Borrowed Time may be their best release to date. 

There are no bad tracks on Borrowed Time. Almost every song is just as strong as the next, with Captive Audience, Where I Can Be Found, and Far To Go retaining more near punk aggression.

But then, from End Of The Day on, the album takes a decidedly alternative rock turn. It's also the first song on which Northington makes a noticeable move to the foreground for effect. The combination is welcomed in every occasion.

On tracks like The Escapist, Northington even takes on lead vocals with confidence, much more so than he does on Ordinary Lives or any other previous song. St. Andrews Hall, Don't Have To Wait, and personal favorite Hopelessness are all solid too, making Borrowed Time the band's most convincing progression.

Nothington's Borrowed Time Clocks 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

While several songs drift away from punk, the album is one step further than a simple progression. There is a fuller, folkier underbelly in almost every composition. The songs might not be more deliberate, but it is clear everyone contributed to make each track better.

Borrowed Time by Nothington is currently available on iTunes. You can also download the album from Amazon. The full physical release, including a vinyl edition, is slated for next week, September 13.
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