The Joup Friday Album: The Noisettes – Three Moods of the Noisettes

NoisettesListening to The Noisettes, it would be easy to dismiss them as another Alabama Shakes-wannabe act … except The Noisettes pre-date the Shakes by six years — and the band formed on a different continent.

Which is why, listening to the group’s 2004 EP, “Three Moods of the Noisettes,” it raises the question why listeners weren’t ready to embrace that retro sound in 2004, but just a mere two years later, press and public alike were enamored by Amy Winehouse, and then in 2009, fell over themselves in their collective (and justifiable) love for Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard. It certainly wasn’t because Noisettes singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa wasn’t talented — in fact, USA Today called her “incendiary” in one 2006 article. And it wasn’t because they weren’t homegrown; Winehouse was also from London.

Rather, I suspect it’s because the Noisettes weren’t a beautiful disaster (as in the case of Winehouse) or as steeped in the Southern soul-rock pedigree as Alabama Shakes. Regardless, re-listening to “Three Moods” is a treat. The good news is, The Noisettes are still around and still making music; 2012 saw the release of their third full-length studio album, Contact, released on Mono-ra-rama. It peaked at No. 30 on the U.K. albums chart but made nary a blip Stateside, although the group toured with the likes of Lady Gaga.

“Three Moods” starts off with “Don’t Give Up,” two minutes and 30 seconds of gritty blues-punk punctuated with Shoniwa’s feline vocals and a fuzzed-out cacophony that’s a cleaner, more sophisticated take on the same sound The Black Keys were working at the time. “Monte Christo,” the second track on the EP, has a Billie Holiday-esque jazz flavor, while “Signs” crackles with fire while “Signs” sounds like Eartha Kitt fronting a 60s-era James Bond lounge band.

The EP closes* with “Burn,” in which Shoniwa implores, “I dare you to be yourself … and no one else.” Ordinary people, she sings, “are the most dangerous of all.” It’s a fitting closer, since The Noisettes would be considered “ordinary” by all contemporary measurements of success, yet quite dangerous once you pop open the cover and listen to what’s underneath their below-the-radar existence.If you dig this then please, go out and buy it! Oh yeah, and tag Amy Riley, give us something great next week!

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*Closes musically; there’s also a video of the song “Don’t Give Up” included on the 2005 version of the EP that was released domestically by Universal Records.


Sara Farr

Sara Farr

Sara Farr is currently an adjunct marketing instructor at the School of Advertising Art. Previously, she worked as a graphic designer at Variety for six years, and spent 10 years before that as a music writer for various Midwestern and Los Angeles-based newspapers and magazines. Her work appears in “The Little Black Book, Music: Over a Century of the Greatest Artists, Albums, Songs, Performances and Events That Rocked the Music World.”

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