By Jackie Lam
I first got wind of Echo Park denizens NO when they opened for RACES at The Bootleg a few months back. The place was scattered with regulars and perfect nobodies such as myself with the usual yearnings for some solid live music on a weekday night. Enter NO, a cadre of lanky bearded fellows who took to the stage in the form of a tangle of slender arms swaddling guitars. The short set they played that evening was tremendous, and their expansive sound seemed to occupy each inch of the venue with a somber, moody tenderness.
NO's EP, Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Here Forever, released last November, is a fistful of tracks that are both intricate, brooding, and elegalic. Fronted by New Zealand native Bradley Hanan Carter and his bandmates Sean Daniel Stentz, Joseph Sumner, Reese Richardson, and Mike Walker, the five-piece has written sophisticated musical compositions like only veterans of indie rock can.
While some debut EPs feel like iffy experiments and unformed songs, with the band seeming to struggle to come up with a specific sound or intent, NO’s EP could comprise the first half of a full-length album and almost under-reaching, as if they have yet to fully showcase their capabilities. With its enigmatic lyrics, delicate textures, and morose, temporal quality is a not-too-far-off nod to The National, but has its own stylistic flourishes.
The opening track, “Another Life,” lead vocalist Hanan Carter’s low, expressive tenor bears is grounded in a gentle rhythmic current. Highlights include “Big Waves,” one of my favorites on the album, briefly starts with a field recording of shouting children at play, and is saturated in faded brightness. “Stay with Me,” the last track, is a man recounting his faults amiss in deep pool of reflection and regret, trying to hold on to what remains precious to him. "Coming Down" is awash in a swirl of dream-inspired lyrics and is tethered by a recurring pipe-organ melody.
Listening to these tracks is like coming across a long-forgotten diary in an abandoned basement. A vivid tapestry of aural vignettes, in which each song seamlessly carries a narrative arch and is tangible and emotive. What pervades throughout Don't Worry, You'll Be Here Forever is the lingering notion of hope and promise.
NO has a Monday night residency at The Echo for the entire month of March. The entire EP is available for streaming on their BandCamp page. A limited run (only 500 copies were made) of vinyl copies are available for purchase at Origami Records.