There is something about Not Cool that makes them more than just a typical hipster band. Sure, the sound is there, the “wooos” harmonizing in between lyrics, and the warm, fuzzy guitars, but the musical output is dynamic and multifaceted. On their first release, Rugged Raw, which is either a long running EP (eat your heart out Sufjan Stevens) or a short running LP, no two songs sound the same. Touching on influences like Fugazi, The Replacements, Blur, and Pavement, as well as a pretty ironic and blunt name and ‘gutter pop’ self proclamation, Not Cool are born of a strong indie rock pedigree.
The London based band got together in the winter of 2008 after two seemingly no name UK acts, Lost Penguin and The Violets, disbanded, their debut album arriving after the band released and sold out of a slew of split 7-inches this year with the likes of Male Bonding, as well as playing the UK festival circuit and touring with Crocodiles. The album begins with the first introduction to the Not Cool lo-fi guitar sound; a captivatingly warm guitar fuzz that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The next track is the undeniably Fugazi influenced, if perhaps ironically titled, “SST” – ballsy.
“Perfect Hair Forever,” is the catchiest song on the album, hands down. The jangly guitar riff is in the realm of newer acts like Male Bonding and the Crocodiles. “Retired to Stud,” begins with a simple bass line before the charming lyric, “I can take you anywhere,” by Matthew J Gilbert, and an interesting guitar solo emulating Pavement-esque chord progressions, circa Wowee Zowee.
The most raw track, “Queens,” resurrects more ’90s lo-fi. Touches of Guided by Voices and even Love Battery, Sub Pop’s most underrated band, shine throughout, particularly in the drum work of Andrew Moran. The album ends with “Hideous Men,” an amusing, personal portrayal of singer, Gilbert: “I can’t fit/ But I eat well.” Bassist William Riley, keeps a stellar rhythm section, as he does throughout the album.
Not Cool deliver something unique in a very homogeneous time in music. Their music is beyond the beach and a perfect outlook for fall. The album packs a punch, and if you’re into hooky lo-fi and warm fuzzy guitars, his album should easily capture your attention. Play this one loud.