Hottest of Phoenix

"Top 5 Local Albums of the Year"

Arizona Independent Music Scene Magazine

January 2022

Written By: Brooklyn Farr


"Top 5 Hottest Local Albums of 2021"

#3: NON Essentials: The Best of Numbers On Napkins - by Numbers On Napkins

NON Essentials is the latest (as well as the last) release from the Phoenix based pop punk band, Numbers On Napkins. NoN recently announced their retirement from the scene, with the members of the band each heading in their own separate directions. NoN had a strong presence in the local scene during the mid 2000’s, but went on a five year hiatus in 2013 that ultimately caused the demise of the band. Despite releasing a comeback album titled, From Buckeye To Beardsley, in 2019, and a deluxe re-issue of their successful debut album, Waiting for Tomorrow, in 2020, NoN was unable to duplicate the success they had found over a decade ago.

NoN released their last album, NON Essentials in the summer of 2021, and it is a perfect way for the band to wrap up their career. The CD release is packaged in an eco-wallet, with a matte finish that works well with the album artwork, which resembles a modern style of strange shapes in various Earth tone colors on the cover. Although the packaging isn’t nearly as impressive as what the band included on the actual CD.

NON Essentials contains 26 tracks, featuring the bands most popular songs. The album starts off strong with “Forget This, I’m Going to Tokyo”, which is one of NoN’s most popular tracks. The track was originally released on the full length album, Borrachos, Chingasos Y Rucas, and displays the overall talent of the band much better than other releases, with a wild array of drums that really show how talented the bands drummer, Tad Gurthman, can be when he wants to show off a bit. Guitarist Moe Money plays complex guitar riff, as does bassist, Chase Stain, and Stain performs lead vocals by singing in a vastly different way than his usual style. Stain also included small touches of piano and keyboards in just the right places, giving the track a sound that is unique and unlike most of NoN’s other songs. The end result catches your ear, and is a perfect way to start the album.

The next track, “Runaway”, was NoN’s most successful single, and helped the band gain recognition after being put into rotation on several stations throughout 2005. “Runaway” is a catchy pop punk tune with melodic vocals and strong harmonies. Moe Money performs the lead vocals on the track, and his fine tuned vocals help make this song sound like a true hit.

NoN chose “Go Away” for the third track, another popular song that has an upbeat tempo and features lead vocals from drummer, Tad Gurthman. Gurthman’s gruff style of singing works well with the track, and helps give the album a since of diversity. NON Essentials features NoN’s greatest tunes, and considering how diverse sounding the band could be at times, the album often feels like a compilation featuring a bunch of different bands.

On track 24, “Bad Decisions”, guitarist Matt Martini takes a stab at lead vocals. Martini sings using a flat and nasal style, somewhat like old Fat Mike, and helps make the track sound unlike other tracks on the album. The song is funny, and has a stronger “punk rock” feel to it. Although the band delivers other tracks that also have that overall “punk rock” feeling, like the songs, “Another Song MRR Won’t Like” and “True Love”, which feature angry vocals from Chase Stain, and “Burnin’ Bridges”, featuring angry vocals by Moe Money.

Songs like “Ten Years Ago Today”, “Politics As Usual” and “Boobies” have a commercial bubble gum pop punk style, while tracks like “Summer Daze” and “I’m Wanting Heather Lesser More” have a more skate pop punk sound. NoN includes their popular pop punk cover of “Baby Got Back”, as well as other hilarious songs like, “My Girlfriend Bit My Dick Off”, “Burpin’ Our Way to New Mexico” and “Fat Girls”. The band included their popular acoustic Irish folk song, “Ode to the Drink”, and the indie rock song, “Quit yer Job and Become a Rockstar”. The release also includes “The Poor Misfortune of a Dimwitted Lemming”, featuring dual lead vocals from both Stain and Money, helping give it a style that reminds me of something from Taking Back Sunday or Thursday. “The Last Song”, which is the final track on the album, sounds like mix of 1980’s new wave and alternative rock, with drastic octave changes in the lead vocals, giving the track a unique style.

Even though many fans of the band have probably already heard the majority of the songs on this album, the band chose to include their best material, making it the strongest release that NoN has ever had. NoN also included a couple of unreleased tracks for their hardcore fans, and released a pop punk cover of “Kiss Me Deadly”, originally made famous by former Runaway’s guitarist, Lita Ford. NoN also included a previously unreleased acoustic version of their popular track, “Summer Daze”, which was recorded live during an on air broadcast from the AM college radio station, ASU’s, The Blaze.

This release is just solid, and despite the fact that nearly every track has already been released in the past, it lands at the number two spot this year because each song is so attention-grabbing, so powerful, and so catchy, that it’s pretty hard to find a stronger release this year. However, there is one other album that is even more outstanding from 2021.