Every great track deserves a good story behind it, and “Notorious” certainly qualifies as both an excellent uptempo ripper and a fine tale of a band pushing themselves to absurd limits because of a) opportunity and b) absurdity can be a hell of a lot of fun sometimes. The story involves Small Reactions spontanesously driving 1,800 miles to New York City to play a showcase because there were some label people potentially interested in releasing their recently completed LP, Similar Phantoms, and also because this is what artists do when they are motivated, impulsive, and have an itch to spend several days in a cramped van surrounded by a ton of music equipment and their best friends in the world. If you buy the guys a beer I’m sure they’d be willing to share the details of what happened on that fateful trip, but for our purposes here only two things are important: 1) the showcase never developed into anything significant, and 2) in order to make the most of their venture, the group also booked two days worth of recording at Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn.
It was here that Small Reactions would record “Notorious” and a few other tracks that will soon appear on a new five-song EP, out February 24. Like most of the band’s recordings, the song was tracked live with minimal overdubs and vocals added later. The group has always had a knack for merging cathartic hooks with frenetic intensity, and that’s never been truer than it is here. There’s a raw urgency that runs through the track like an electric current, and you can almost hear the air crackle and singe as the band comes barreling through at a hundred miles an hour. Everything feels so tense and wiry and ready to tear apart at the seams, but frontman Scotty Hoffman somehow manages to keep it all together with a gritty, inspired performance.
Small Reactions have long been at the vanguard of Atlanta’s local music scene, and while the band has had their share of captivating songs, rarely have they sounded as fucking invincible as they do on this blistering cut. In fact, to lay it out straight, “Notorious” might just be the group’s finest moment yet.
The Notorious EP is out February 24 on cassette and digital via Bear Kids Recordings. Pre-orders are available here.
Small Reactions will celebrate the release of Notorious on Thu., Feb. 23 at the Earl. They will be supported by Fake Flowers and Art School Jocks. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $8. 21+ to enter.