If you aren’t familiar with California’s Nothington (formed from the ashes of one of the later incarnations of Tsunami Bomb) play a bare-bones, no-frills street style of punk rock. “Borrowed Time,” their debut Red Scare release probably does the best job of capturing the true essence of their sound. The Les Pauls are heavily distorted, the rhythm section is tight, the lyrics focus heavily on the trials and tribulations of life: (“broken down…head in my hands/I fell apart” as they sing in “Far I Go,”) and primary vocalist Jay Northington’s gravelly voice sounds like a man with a lot of beer-and-cigarettes-infused miles on his tires, lending a certain amount of authenticity to the message. Musically, think Strung Out’s uptempo, high-energy street punk, subtract the metal guitar solos, and add Social Distortion’s knack for melodic, three-chord hooks, and you’ve about got the sound down pat.
Album-opener “Captive Audience” is one of the album’s highlights, establishing the tempo pretty quickly. The guitars are heavy and distorted, the bass is pretty heavy and melodic, following more than your average all-eighth-notes, all-the-time bass line that dominates a lot of the punk scene. The chant-along chorus is pretty solid. “Where I Can’t Be Found” follows, and is another high point, with a chorus that is sure to inspire sweaty, high-energy mosh-pit singalongs. “The Escapist,” which features guitarist Chris Matulich’s less-gravelly-but-still-raw turn on lead vocals, is another particularly infectious song; nothing special, and nothing that is going to reinvent the wheel, but a damn fine punk rock tale of coming to terms with the fact that you’ve got a track record of screwing up and running away from your problems. Like GI Joe told us, knowing is half the battle…
Don’t take this next paragraph the wrong way; “Borrowed Time” is a solid album from start to finish. That said, it does tend to get a little formulaic at times. Granted Nothington have developed on a pretty solid, successful formula, but at times it leaves the listener wondering if they, perhaps, hit the repeat button and just heard the same track a couple of times in a row. Given that the majority of the listening audience now just loads everything onto an MP3 player and presses “shuffle,” however, I guess that isn’t as big a deal as it used to be.
Haven’t gotten your full Nothington jones satisfied yet? Click here to read our DS Exclusive interview with guitarist/singer Chris Matulich, conducted by the inimitable Brittles Rixon.