By Jackson Anderson
It’s quite a pleasant phenomenon, being graced with new releases completely out of the blue. It’s like a surprise birthday party. When I saw Nothington’s In the End appear on my spotify feed, I was astonished. I wondered if there was another band that called itself Nothington, or if there was some sort of mix-up. In my mind, Nothington had ceased to exist. With there being a now six-year gap between their last release, and former guitarist Ryan Donovan joining Red City Radio to replace Paul Pendley, I figured that the orgcore legends known as Nothington had quietly dissolved. Then In the End unceremoniously released. I went to see if any of the usual news sites had written any reviews on it, and absolutely none of them had, so I decided that I had better remedy that.
Nothington, along with The Lawrence Arms, Red City Radio, and Hot Water Music is a poster child of the piss-taking sub genre of pop-punk that is orgcore. Characterized by rough, throaty vocals, apolitical subject matter, worn flannel, beards, and pretentious folks such as myself discussing these bands on the internet (hence the org), orgcore is a somewhat disputed sub genre as to whether it even exists, but no matter who you ask, Nothington has always been one of its forefathers, whatever it is. Fronted by Jay Northington (I wonder how they got the name), a good ol’ boy from the south with a voice rough, throaty, and low as they come, Nothington have always dealt with another classic orgcore trope: the struggles of the middle-class white American. I don’t say that with any disparaging intents, but simply as a statement of fact. Everyone has struggles, and the orgcore demographics and artists feel a desire and venue to voice their own unique struggles as well.
As time went on, Jay adopted a sidekick in the form of Chris Matulich, a nasally second vocalist evocative of Green Bay’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Chris proved to be the upbeat and optimistic yin to Jay’s at times negativistic and dreary yang. Chris did always feel like just that, though, a sidekick. Jay usually split the vocal duties with Chris at a ratio of about 75/25, allowing Chris 3 or 4 songs an album. It was a decent balance, but sometimes it left people confused as to who that other guy even was.
With In the End, it feels as if the apprentice has finished his training. For the first time ever, Chris has the majority of songs on the album. It is, I concede, a small majority, with Chris singing in six of the eleven songs on the record. As for the album’s sound as a whole, it may be the best and most refined that the band has ever produced. Aging is always a difficult thing for bands, but for Nothington, a band whose shtick is rough and throaty vocals, age has a similar effect on them as it does on a fine wine. Both Jay and Chris exhibit a maturity in their vocal talents, and a rough growliness in their vocal styles that longtime fans of the band should eat right up.
Sonically, In the End is Nothington’s darkest record. While they have always been a bit of a doom and gloom band, they did it with an upbeat devil-may-care attitude and a southern charm. In In the End they sound decidedly weathered. The album art, as you can see, features a minimalist depiction of a bird falling to the earth. Songs like Jay’s “Already There” and “End Transmission” have an almost apocalyptic tone to them. These downers are balanced out by anthemic songs of nostalgia and motivation, both courtesy of Chris, “Cobblestones” and “It Comes and Goes.”
Overall, I believe that In the End will become a classic, highly regarded entry in Nothington’s discography. It has both the familiarity of Jay’s throaty desperation with a tinge of hopeful ambition to it, and a newfound bit of energy and newness in Chris’s added bit of spotlight. It features some of the best work from both vocalists, driving anthems, and even a fleeting melody in “Nothing but Beaches.” They done good.