Rhythm & Views

The Love Me Nots

Phoenix's Love Me Nots traveled to Detroit to cut their debut record with garage-rock kingpin Jim Diamond (producer of the White Stripes, Detroit Cobras, etc.) and returned with the huge-sounding, righteously rocking In Black and White. Diamond certainly knew just what to do: turn everything up as loud as possible, give everyone equal space in the mix and get out of the way.

The Love Me Nots are part of that great tradition of trashy, brazen, R&B-inflected garage-rock that stretches back to the early 1960s and shows no signs of ever going away. Super-sexy lead singer Nicole Laurenne tackles both the mic and her Farfisa organ with commanding ferocity, while the equally go-go-booted bass player Christina Nunez lays down a thick bottom. Guitar player Michael Johnny Walker is the real ace in the hole, with a deep bag of fat, fuzzed-out riffs; meanwhile, drummer Jay Lien hits them hard and right.

None of which would mean all that much if they didn't have the songs, but fortunately, The Love Me Nots bring fresh energy and an updated point of view to a genre that sometimes flirts with becoming a parody of itself. Needless to say, The Love Me Nots rock, but the mid-tempo and slower tracks really shine, too. "Break My Heart" is a slow R&B burner; "Cry" is spooky and atmospheric; and "Broken" could almost be a lost Janis Joplin blues-rock shouter. Love you not? Not bloody likely.

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