When the Love Me Nots released 2007’s Black & White – an album that remained on CMJ’s Top 100 Charts for some 10 weeks – it appeared as if this Phoenix, Arizona, band was on their way to stardom. Instead, they’ve remained curiously below the radar, despite releasing a string of four more impressive albums since, capped by 2014’s Sucker.
Detroit, a very strong second album, followed in 2008 and contained a should’ve-been-big-hit single from this quartet of two gals and two guys called “You’re Really Something.” Very infectious, the Love Me Nots’ slinky, swaggering, mid-tempo tune mixed ’60s fuzz-tone guitar and Farfisa organ-driven garage/punk, then swirled in ’80s L.A. Paisley Underground and wrapped it all in in Motor City toughness. Why this outstanding song didn’t top the charts is beyond me. It was kind of like mixing together the Pandoras, Shocking Blue and the Fuzztones with the Bangles’ hit single-producing melodic touch. There was no sophomore slump here.
Nicole Laurenne’s gutsy lead vocals do a lot to drive these songs, and guitarist Michael Johnny Walker’s juicy fuzz riffs are in your face and don’t let up for an instant. Check out “Treat Him Good,” also from Detroit, which boasts these deliciously creepy organ/guitar chords. It’s like a Halloween love song: Righteous!
The Love Me Nots’ third album, called The Demon and the Devotee, followed in 2011, and showed they could handle moody ballads along with a tasty trumpet solo (as on “Trouble”) just as easily as they did earlier, full-tilt rockers like “I’m The One” from Detroit. Their 12 string-driven “The Girl Lights Up” offers a cool change of pace on The Demon and the Devotee, sounding like an outtake from the Go-Go’s third album.
Then there was Sucker, more of a brash, hard pop/rock driven affair than the Love Me Nots have previously done. This one has more in common with The Raveonettes’ big sound. “You Gotta Go” blasts out of the gate with particular abandon, while “Slip into the Black,” a mysterious ballad, is the best cut off of this particular album.
It sounds like a cliche’ to say, but the Love Me Nots have all the markings and talent to be a successful nationwide band, yet they’ve somehow lacked that one big break needed for a larger audience – and/or that one elusive hit single. Check out the Love Me Nots on record or live; they will not let you down.
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