album review: downey

Written by Natalie Spina

Putting out singles every now and then since 2015, No Win has been a long time in the making. Frontman Danny Nogueiras has been the gear cranking out great work for other bands and musicians since his days in FIDLAR. He founded Balboa Recording Studio in LA and has produced for bands like Mean Jeans, Together Pangea, and No Parents. No Win is Nogueiras’ opportunity to tell his story through his own music. He joins bassist David Jerkovich, drummer Jeff Enzor, and guitarist Juan Liñan to create No Win. Their debut album, Downey pays homage to the city of the same name, encompassing California’s sunny suburban disposition through its contemplative sound. What other town provides the perfect sense of nostalgia than one that’s home to a park known as “Dennis the Menace Park” as well as the oldest operating McDonald’s?

The album opens up on the attention-grabbing “After Your Legs,” driving its energy through a chugging rhythm leading up to breaks where the lead guitar cuts in. The track rallies around the underdog, which grounds the album in its suburban themes – there’s always a desire for a champion out of the mundane. Danny’s songwriting remains universally relatable though it may touch on specific personal experiences. Leading single “Vision,” walks through the breakdown of a relationship. Whether between couples or between friends, the lyrics can strike a chord with anyone who’s felt like a relationship isn’t giving back what has been put it into it. It carries a confidence within its lyrics that provides an empowering ability to break off relationships with toxic people and not bat a single eye.

The music of No Win, at the bare minimum, is music for those who live for a leading guitar melody. Every song has a special moment put aside specifically for the guitar to shine as part of the storytelling process. “2 Real” is the best example of the grandeur the guitar holds in Downey. There’s almost a theatrical element to the storytelling ability of the guitar, though not going overboard so as to take the album out of the honest reality it resides within. The guitar is bright and poppy but has the indie rock edge you would expect to come out of these seasoned punks. Vocal harmonies also help to sedate the sound into something sweeter. Tracks like “Shelley Duvall” contain a bittersweet sound that is emitted throughout the album.

These artistic elements of the music, produced by John Goodmanson via Dangerbird Records, is translated into the visuals of the album and the band through the art direction of Mind Palace Studio via Ryan and Alice Baxley. Two music videos preceded the release of the LP, one for “Vision” and one for “Carbar.” The former exhibits the Baxley’s signature cardboard aesthetic and aimed to chase Nogueiras’ idea of having the video be playable from any orientation. The cinematography warps gravity and composition while experimenting with playful graphics and bright colors that connect the scenes. “Carbar” has more of a narrative approach as we see Nogueiras travel through different “in the parking lot” scenes where he seems to become a background figure in various groups of people he becomes involved with.

No Win’s album release is being followed by a tour across the U.S. ending on April 24th with a homecoming show at LA’s Fonda Theatre.

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