Nottingham - Talk to Strangers
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Record Label: Oort Records
One of the things I love most about working with this website is being exposed to bands that I surely would not have noticed otherwise. Most recently, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Nottingham, a four piece pop punk band out of Randolph, New Jersey. Nottingham don't play the same upbeat style of pop punk we're all used to hearing, but bring an air of creativity to the table with their indie rock-influenced sound on their debut full-length Talk to Strangers. They do, however, take on an old standby of this genre, with lyrical content that focuses mainly on girls and other teenage and twenty-something issues.
Nottingham hang their hat on strong vocals from Darrell Jones and catchy guitar lines from Jones and Brian Darazsdi. Opener "Sleep" is an easy track that throws the listener back to early-decade pop punk. It's lighthearted and carefree, which, as I've written a few times this season, is great summer music. Throughout Talk to Strangers are catchy choruses and plenty of hook-filled guitar lines, but the instrumental portions where the indie rock influences shine are what make this band stand out to me. "Bottle Rockets" is a good example of this, as are "Liar" and "High Heights". The latter is one of the better tracks on the album, and while it is a bit mellower than the others, Nottingham don't sacrifice anything with the change in style.
Unfortunately, the praise I lay on the top tracks from this record cannot be extended to every song. "She's (Not) the One" and "Dumb" are filler-ish tracks that contain playful melodies but lack any real substance. The lyrics are weakest on these tracks, especially "She's (Not) the One". It's evident that the lyrics aren't meant to be taken seriously, but they do get a tad bothersome on repeat listens.
While I have thoroughly enjoyed spinning this record for the past few weeks, it's blatantly obvious that it's a leave it or take it release. There will surely be people who criticize Jones' voice, not because his talent is in doubt, but just because he presents the sort of vocals that people either love or hate. More will pass by Nottingham, branding them as just another pop punk band. I've taken a liking to their brand of the genre, but this album won't have much staying power. While a handful of songs may make it onto future playlists, there is some filler on Talk to Strangers and it will probably be forgotten by the end of this phenomenal year of music.
That being said, Nottingham should be able to use this record to their advantage. Newly signed to Oort Records, the group now know that they have what it takes to write, record, and tour on a full length. The true standouts on this record ("Sleep", "Bottle Rockets", "Liar", and "High Heights") show that Nottingham have both a distinctive sound and a bit of range that they can expand upon. Nottingham's name is definitely one that I would keep an eye out for in the future, especially for those who enjoy Man Overboard and the softer side of pop punk.
Cool! thanks for the heads up. I will surely download the album. One of the things I love with this website is the same as what you have mentioned, it's about the album made or sang by unknown artists but songs that are very much cool to listen to.