Three out of four Nots: Synth player Alexandra Eastburn, bassist Madison Farmer, and guitarist and front woman Natalie Hoffman Credit: Cole Wheeler

Natalie Hoffmann used to play bass with nihilistic Memphis punks Ex-Cult, but in spring 2014 she quit to focus on fronting Nots, her longtime collaboration with drummer Charlotte Watson. After releasing a couple seven-inches, they arrived at their present lineup—with bassist Madison Farmer and synth player Alexandra Eastburn—in time for their debut LP, We Are Nots, which came out last fall. My colleague Luca Cimarusti described it thusly: “Hoffman doesn’t sing so much as holler—she sounds like someone telling you really, really loudly how annoyed she is with you—and the band smashes away relentlessly behind her, brimming with no-frills bad-vibes riffs and paranoia-inducing sci-fi synthesizer.”

A few weeks ago Nots released “Virgin Mary,” their first single since the album. Recorded half on Hoffmann’s four-track in the storage unit where Nots rehearse and half in Burgundy Studios with Keith Cooper (who’d already worked on two Nots seven-inches), it’s very much of a piece with the band’s previous output. 

Hoffmann treats her prickly, slashing, acidic guitar with so much echo and delay that it sounds like she’s trying to find her way through the song the same way bats find their way through caves. Eastburn’s burbling ray-gun synth spills over everything in cycles that speed up and slow down unpredictably, while the implacable rhythm section plays the same bar over and over for most of the tune—I especially love the bass tone, which makes Farmer sound like she’s using suspension-bridge cables for strings.

Nots play a free show tonight at the Owl with Running, and on Facebook they promise “more recordings and news coming soon.” I’m gonna assume that means they’ll have more new music coming out by the time they return to Chicago on Friday, November 13, for a date at the Empty Bottle.