It’s steadily approaching two years since we last covered Northumberland’s feisty rock band Not Now Norman. They had just released “Shut Your Mouth,” a blistering anthem about calling out abusers. As we close out 2022, the band has compiled a full-length album that was officially released on November 18th entitled, “It’s Not This One.” The album includes the aforementioned “Shut Your Mouth,” the band’s most recent single “Save Me,” as well as three preceding hit singles: “Little Cheryl” and “End of the Day” from 2020, and 2021’s “Little Frankenstein.” The album consists of thirteen tracks total, representing a noteworthy landmark release in their catalogue. There are many things I find fascinating about this band, but being upfront, the thing I appreciate the most is the candid lyricism. Front woman Taylor-Grace openly discusses being put down, bullied, and having disabilities in childhood that fuel the fire for her inspiration. Transforming affliction into artistic projection, that transcends beautifully in her lyrics as well as vocal delivery. I pretty much knew upon hearing it right away that it was going to be something I connected well with. It is abrasive and unapologetic. For fans of The Pretty Reckless to Black Sabbath, Not Now Norman is a great Hard Rock recommendation.
I’ve been told by a few people that I’d never make it in the music industry, that my disabilities would make it impossible. The whole album is my way of proving to the world that they were mistaken. I’ve been put down and bullied by many people in my life and now is the time to prove them all wrong, not just for myself but for other people who find themselves in similarTaylor-Grace
circumstances. Now thanks to music and this album, I’m able to turn my pain into power. I hope that in some way it helps others to do the same
I mean, I don’t know, take a listen to the record is all I have to say. If you can hear that and have the fortitude to dismiss it or put it down, I’d think you were just crazy or just a plain asshole. Excuse my French, I’m still taking lessons. “Making it” is a really subjective notion. There’s a ton of us out there penning our thoughts and putting forth our ideas on a wide, wide spectrum of “success.” So, the concept of “making it” comes down to what we as individuals get out of the experience, really. You don’t have to be a genius to hear that Taylor-Grace is a talented vocalist, so it makes me wonder. See? I’ve connected beautifully with it already. Moving on.
Another thing that struck me as interesting about this band was that the guitar work is done by Taylor-Grace’s father, Zander Brown. I didn’t’ recall taking note of that or reading that prior to listening the first time through. Knowing that now in retrospect, a lot of things make a great deal of sense about much of the diversity in sound I was hearing on the record. In terms of “what does it sound like,” my observations were wide ranging. There are moments where I hear old-school metal or power metal, yet at times you’d swear you are hearing something alternative in the vein of Alanis Morrisette. Blended tastefully, not one particular influence overpowering the other, it is a familiar, yet distinctly unique vibe. Well done. That guitar work is the other thing that stood out to me in particular. Each track being guitar-oriented and skillfully played. I took several notes while listening about how a lot of the guitar solos I was hearing sounded like someone with an appreciation for players like Randy Rhodes. The best part for me is that it’s not overplayed, it serves the entire arrangement very well. In other words, it’s not “widdly-woo” the whole time through the whole thing. I mention that, because I think some of us who might have actually known guitarists that are that good at one time or another, might have also perhaps been in a band or two where you have had to reel a player back in a little bit from soloing the whole time. And don’t get me started on drummers, haha. Point is! The guitar work is remarkable, tasteful, and intricate.
Here is the track listing of the album and a few of my thoughts:
Track 1: Norman’s Calling – Cool instrumental opening track, makes you feel like you’re driving through a riot. You hear a culmination of sirens, peel outs, jargon on megaphones, etc. Musically it sounds to me a bit like some old school Judas Priest or even some Metal-adjacent renditions of an NES video game like Mega Man.
Track 2: Judas (RELOADED) – This track is great. A triumphant “F You” song. I love the hook: “Judas, stick it up your ass!” Which metaphorically (I’m taking it that way) sounded to me as pushing back against betrayal. Contextually it speaks to isolation tactics and other manipulative behaviors. It’s a gritty, dirty rock and roll tune. Might actually be my favorite one on the album. Clearly, I’m a sucker for love songs, haha.
Track 3: What I Want – The guitars in this one swell in and out and drop off to driving baselines during the verses. I really like that dynamic approach in songs. Musically, it came off to me a straightforward hard rocking rock and roll. The vocal delivery was reminiscent of Alanis Morrisette. I like the screams at the end that weave in and out of the anthemically sang chorus. It’s like a fit of rage happening in the background. Pretty neat opening line: “No promises of riches that you can’t fulfill, just wasting all my time, when I got no time to kill.”
Track 4: Houston – You hear what sounds like a NASA type of countdown at the beginning, kicking off the metaphorical “Houston, I think we got a problem” lyrical theme. Vocally reminds me again of Alanis in this one. There are some impressive and interesting vibratos vocally with some raspy chops and screams added in. A lot of personality in this tune. This is one of the slickest guitar solos on the album, I think. I also like how the rhythm guitar riff bounces off some old rock and roll chord progressions.
Track 5: Who Are You? – An upbeat tune with a rocking main riff. The notes played in the leads vibe in a middle eastern way, similar to how System of a Down would do with some of their leads. This track is interesting because even though it’s guitar oriented like the others, there is an element of Electronica, almost crossing the line of industrial in those parts. When the male vocals come in towards the end with fast but not quite rapping type of delivery, it strikes me again as reminiscent of System of a Down. However, I say that with a grain of salt, just those parts. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this one. I’d say it’s probably the most “genre-bending” on the album.
Track 6: Save Me – Anybody who’s read my stuff knows that I’m a sucker for a grungy sounding song. There’s a nice grungy main riff in this one. A bit more nihilist in lyrical content, the chorus is belted: “Save me from our destiny, save me from a time where everything around us dies.” You’ll get some whammy bar appearance in the solo on this one, super slick. Just a little over the 3:30 mark there is one of those key-change type of things that was pulled off really well.
Track 7: Chasing Rainbows – This song is one of the more “alternative” sounding ones on the album to me. It has a cool loud/quiet dynamic that shooting from the hip, I’d say reminds me of something like Alice in Chains. Great harmonies on this track. Once the bridge of the song takes place, the vibe shifts to what I noted as reminding me of Evanescence.
Track 8: RE-INTRODUCING – Now this is my kind of track. It comes out swinging. This one is also a contender for potential favorite on the album. I hear echos of Sabbath musically in this one. It has that Tony Iommi type of “stop and go” riffing as if it’s like old school rock and roll, but the devil got a hold of the guitar tuned it down before starting to play it. Lots of attitude vocally, I like the angst. If “Judas” is the “F You” song on the album, this one I would dub the FAFO one. (Consult Urban Dictionary if you need to on that.)
Track 9: Egocentric – You know how you go to a Rock show, and at some point, the band busts out a song where everyone is singing back to them? It’s usually some sort of anthem with “whoa oh oh’s” of some sort. Something people drinking can muster to holler back at the band. That’s this one. There are cool little piano arpeggios that fill quiet spaces right before the guitars come back in smashing which is a neat dynamic. There are growl vocals in this one! Don’t tempt me with a good time.
Track 10: Little Frankenstein – Lyrically, this song seemed to me like it was speaking to alienation. Also strikes me as of similar influence on that of Alice in Chains. Totally relate to this song as one who was talked about, but never talked to in my own childhood.
Track 11: Little Cheryl – I hear a lot of 80s influence in this track. Taylor-Grace’s delivery in a lot of it reminds me of Pat Benatar. Of all the times I might have glossed over it until now, I will say that this track is a standout to the fact that the rhythm section Bass and Drums are also solid backbones to not only this track in particular, but every song. This one is just a distinct highlight of that.
Track 12: Shut Your Mouth – Not the first time I’ve been told to shut my mouth, nor will it be the last. This track has what I describe as a “Smokin in the Boys Room” 80s type of vibe to it, musically. I tried to keen in, I don’t know why but I swore I heard a cowbell at one point on the main riff, but I think I am mistaken. It sounded like it was there, but when I listened again, and I didn’t hear it. I wonder if my mind is placing it there as if to say that’s what I want to hear at that part for some reason. Lyrically, this song is admirably about fighting back against domestic abuse. Again, we’ve covered this one previously, you can read about that HERE
Track 13: End of the Day – Not only as a good closer to the album, but I also genuinely enjoyed this tune as a whole. This has a “punkier” feel to it in the beginning. That, and it’s referring to “messed up shit in my head.” This is clearly my kind of thing. The palm muted power chords over floor tom / tom drumbeats give it flashes of a punk vibe. Never stagnant, however, it ventures into Zeppelin style type of riffing, which I thought was a pretty cool combination of things.
Overall, I found this to be an easy front to back listen. The band has a lot of undeniable attitude that comes through on the record. This was a great find for me, and I am looking forward to keeping up with their releases in the future.
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Wow, this band rocks! And I definitely hear shades of Alanis on “Houston”.
Love them, and thank you for sharing your impressions with us, really makes my day!!!