20 Jan 2022

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Single/Video Review: The Not Okays - Bite Me

28 Nov 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

The Not Okays are a band who originally formed a few years ago just to have some fun at the Emo nights put on at Ding Dong Lounge. They comprise Noriel Wong (guitar), Aaron Prictor (guitar, vocals), Lauren Kate Borhani (vocals), Caitlin Clark (bass) and Bahador Borhani (drums). The three guys are all in MIRA, as well as other bands, with Beej best known for being one of the guitarists in Written By Wolves. Lauren is his wife, and she has been best friends with Caitlin since high school, and Caitlin is also Aaron’s partner, so it’s all incredibly incestuous if you ask me…

I first came across Lauren earlier this year when she introduced herself to me at the infamous WBW gig at Dead Witch (if you weren’t there then you missed out one of the most incredible shows I have ever witnessed in more than 40 years of concert going). Mental health has been a major focus for many this year, and Lauren was able to finally get the support she needed from a health professional who diagnosed her with ADHD. With the correct medication for the first time in her life, she is now driven, and the result is the first single from the band.

When emo broke the first time, Lauren was still at high school, and while she loved it, she also felt it was somewhat lame and wherever she looked she did not see a frontwoman who looked like her. This has pushed her way out of her comfort zone to front the group as she wants a new emo revolution which contains the aggression she desires, but also want to act as a role model for those who may feel their body image may not be what is thought of as being “right” in the Instagram age.

Lauren was incredibly nervous about putting this out there, and to be honest I was also nervous writing about it – I mean, I have been out drinking with her lovely father Clive. What would I say if it sucked? This is a cover of the Avril Lavigne song which was only released a few weeks ago, and which has been viewed by many as the best thing she has done in years. As soon as they heard it, the band knew they could do a great version, and you know what? They’re right. The riffs start, Lauren screams, and we’re off. Any concerns I may have had about Lauren’s vocals went right out the window, as she has a great voice, combined with real passion and aggression. She is not playing at this; she means every single word. I also hadn’t realized that Beej was a drummer (as well as being director, videographer, editor, artist, designer, husband, cat-dad) but if one was to come across this in isolation one would never know his main instrument was a guitar. Noriel and Aaron have quite different but complementary styles, riffing hard when it’s needed, but also have gentle interplay at others, while Caitlin fully understands the need to provide driving bass at some points and not play at all on others. The dynamics and the passion are what make this such a great pop punk emo single.

The video is a performance, but of course everyone is in lockdown so we should feel sorry for Noriel who recorded his piece on his own, while Caitlin and Aaron are playing together, and Lauren and Beej are in the same place (although not in the same room). The song is a blast, loads of fun, and when Aaron gives Caitlin the finger he was taking his life in his hands. Lauren is wonderfully animated in front of a microphone, and her reaction at the end of the take is genuine. What we need now is some original material, as this band has special chemistry, and the stage is set for them to make a huge impact in the NZ scene. I love it.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Blindfolded and Led To The Woods @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 15/01/2022
16 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
I have been looking forward to tonight for ages, as Auckland went into lockdown in August with all gigs being cancelled until just before Christmas, and even then, that was with limited attendance. This means that tonight was going to be my first gig in five months, and given that I covered more than 30 in the first part of the year, that was some cold turkey.
Fool's Lagoon - Single Review: Bizarre
13 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Bizarre is the debut single from Auckland-based quintet Fool’s Lagoon. Mark, Connor, Joe, Matt and Joshua have created a bright and summery indie pop jangler which is heavily guitar-based yet is somehow light and airy throughout.
Powder Chutes - EP Review: Sweet Noise Pollution
11 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
There is always that little hint of concern when reading a press release for a new EP and realise it contains a quote from yours truly for the single which was taken from it. How would they take it this time around if I panned this release?
Tall Folk - Album Review: Wiser
11 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
2021 was a wonderful musical adventure for me as I threw myself into the NZ music scene, and towards the end of the year I realised that with nearly 200 reviews of local music I really should work out my Top 10 singles, EP’s, albums and gigs (check out https://www.muzic.
Pass The Peas - EP Review: Pop
06 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
This three-track EP is the latest release from Poneke-based quintet Pass The Peas, who describe their music as Wasabi spicy Rock n' Roll, whatever that means. To my ears it means they play mid-paced alternative pop rock with a strong concentration on the gravelly and emotional vocals of Kurt with loads of space within the arrangements, which are well-produced.
Black Sands - Single Review: Apocalypse of Eden
22 Dec 2021 // by Kev Rowland
To my mind this single is long overdue, as I have been lucky enough to catch these guys play live a few times this year and they always put on an amazing show. Comprising Cameron Owens (guitars), Ruaidri Keens (guitars), Matt Hammond (bass) and James Trimmer (drums) they are one of those very rare breeds, a hard-hitting metal act with no need for a singer.
Kev's Top 10's - 2021
20 Dec 2021 // by Kev Rowland
2021 has been a strange year, of that there has been no doubt whatsoever, but although everyone in Auckland is champing at the bit to be let out into the real world, it is probably best to remind ourselves that until we went into lockdown in August we were the envy of the world with festivals, plenty of beer, and the country being totally open (apart from the borders). At that time, I had been to more than 30 gigs, and was on course to hit 50 for the year, never thinking for a minute that August would be the last time I saw a band play live.
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