Pushing At The Edges: NoMBe Releases Debut Album “They Might’ve Even Loved Me” REVIEW, PHOTOS & INTERVIEW: NOMBE @ LIVE NATION 3/7/18
LOS ANGELES, CA-Noah McBeth p/k/a “NoMBe” falls to the feet of his guitarist, Heather Baker, rippling his body and swinging his head to the rhythm, paying respect as she tears through another sizzling riff. With patterned silk tied across his forehead and dark, all-jean ensemble, he oozes the electric spirit of Hendrix with a tidy euro edge.
Performing at Live Nation’s “Ones to Watch” showcase on March 7th, the 26 year-old bounces around the space and turns his attention from the electric guitar swung across his lissome body, to the charmed crowd, to his backing band, until he’s back cradling the mic stand again. In a quiet moment, he gives an anecdote about the days of sitting at grade-school desks and feeling tension build as your crush chews on their pencil eraser nearby. The band hums through an abbreviated set, ranging from fuzzed-out garage-rock bits (“Can’t Catch Me”) to the lusty twangs of “Sex” and “Freak Like Me.” He makes each song count.
The showcase comes at the crescendo of the sprawling project that is McBeth’s debut single. The 18-song record, They Might’ve Even Loved Me, was officially released at midnight last night (March 23, TH3RD BRAIN Records). It has been has been a long time coming. For the past 13 months, McBeth has put out a single each month, culminating in last night’s delivery of the final five tracks. Each song draws inspiration from different women who have come and gone in McBeth’s life.
Capitalizing on the age of automated “New Release” playlists, McBeth has essentially engineered a slow rise into the consciousness of listeners. Not that anyone’s complaining. The final product showcases his impressive range as composer, musician, and producer. The slow trickle of singles has been a welcome journey, carrying us along each eddy and ripple of his soulful ode to family, mentors, girlfriends, and exes.
McBeth grew up in Germany but bounced around destination locales like Miami, NYC, and Costa Rica before settling in Los Angeles. His early exposure to the music scene explains many of the influences on his art – funk by osmosis. For starters, his godmother Chaka Khan filled in for babysitting duties from time to time.
“I was mostly inspired by what my parents listened to which was a lot more soul, funk and classic rock,” he explains. “Of course I was also a 90’s hip-hop head. I would say the really European influence on my music is my early exposure to techno and deep house, which I love.”
Now a talented performer and producer in his own right, McBeth bloomed onto the scene with the silky 2015 hits, “Miss Mirage” and “California Girls.” He filled opening slots for Bonobo and Alt-J, before launching into his debut effort.
They Might’ve Even Loved Me is enchanting, from beginning to end. Much like his live performance, the complete album bends genre conventions and defies standard “love song” labels. The tracks each have something to say, at one moment giving off a glittering, dream-like quality on “Drama” and the next a punchy, lo-fi sound on “Can’t Catch Me” (Pharrell recently chose it as the theme-song for his HBO doc, OUTPOST).
McBeth’s vocals charm throughout, but playful lyrics are what make the tracks infectious. “I swear by God you are an angel,” he croons on “Freak Like Me,” “Ironic how you help me raise hell.”
His July track, “Bad Girls” is—fittingly—the wildest of the bunch.
“It was lyrically about my dating experience in Miami. It was hard for me, I always tried to  take girls out and get friend zoned only to see they’d end up drunk with some older guy,” McBeth laughs. “That’s college, I guess. Sonically, it was really the bass line in the verse that inspired all the production. It was the outro of another unreleased song of mine and I liked it so much, I wrote ‘Bad Girls’ over it.”
Out of the five just released today, he has a favorite.
“Milk & Coffee. It has a lot of the rock vibes, but started as an electronic thing for Billie Eilish. Some point during the process it kept getting more grungy and I said screw it, I wanna do it this way now.”
McBeth guesses that he had about ten of the tracks already written before the singles started flowing last January. He wouldn’t change anything about the order they were released, but it’s surely a relief to unload the project in full, and wait for the rave reviews to roll in.
And they will. NoMBe represents the best of today’s evolving music scene, slipping between plucky pop (see: “Signs”), electro, R&B, grunge, and all those in-between sounds. It’s a socially conscious album, intentionally performed with an all-female band, which fittingly comes at a time of reckoning for gender dynamics. They Might’ve is the dance-y, wistful release that 2018 deserved.
McBeth is more than fine with standing at the edge of convention – unabashed to blend bits of culture and creativity from wherever he’s found it along the way. Asked about what he’s drawn to with this fresh slate in front of him, he says:
“Whatever culture Electric Guest, Lewis Del Mar and maybe Coast Modern are…I can relate to their music a lot, and feel it carries the torch of Gorillaz or Gnarls Barkley who – to me – were the first that really blended genres in a sophisticated way. I call this whole thing Electric Soul. Pharrell meets the Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz meets MGMT…”
Like the rest of us, he happily shrugs.