In the sweet spot

The Can't Nots serve up 'Radio Pudding'
By CHRIS CONTI  |  January 8, 2014

CAN SO Naomi and Gary Wilkinson, Frigon, and Brierly.

The Can’t Nots return with a six-song EP, Radio Pudding, and the Providence (via Lincoln) quartet sounds bigger and better than ever. Everyone gets a chance to shine on Radio Pudding, with lead singer Naomi Wilkinson confidently taking the reins and riding the grooves laid down by drummer/brother Gary Wilkinson and bassist Darren Frigon, while Bobby Brierly provides big guitar bursts alongside Wilkinson’s dynamic vocal range.

The Can’t Nots caught my ear in 2011 and had me hooked the first time I heard “Go” from the debut EP Applesauce. The band garnered plenty of local positive press, including nominations in our Best Music Poll for Best Breakthrough Act (2011) and Best Female Vocalist (’12). Influences ranging from Talking Heads to Yeah Yeah Yeahs are prevalent, but on Radio Pudding they’ve blended elements of jazz and funk into the guitar-rock formula, while allowing Naomi’s voice to soar and steal the show.

This time around the band enlisted veteran musician/studio guru George Dussault (Viking Jesus) and recorded at his Galilee Productions studio. “I met George when he and I were judging a local battle of the bands and we happened to hit it off,” Naomi recalled via email earlier this week. “He was amazing to work with — infinitely talented, supportive, and overall just a great guy.”

The band knocked out the EP in two days. “We are a sad, broke band and George was kind enough to work with us at our usual frantic pace,” Naomi said.

Dussault and the Can’t Nots cohesively capture that frenetic energy throughout Radio Pudding, ably guided by the maniacal drum skills of Gary Wilkinson. Holy smokes, this dude is on fire, though he modestly attributes his beast-mode bashing to the addition of rhythm section partner Darren Frigon, who joined the band a year ago.

“On the earlier recordings I had always tried to keep it nice and simple so it would be easier for the listener to groove to because there was no bassline to keep it all together,” Gary noted. “But now that we have a solid bass player in the mix I feel that I have more freedom to explore different styles of playing.”

Frigon also gets credit for naming the band, and four years later ended up joining them. “I had a habit of speaking in double negatives, and it was always Darren’s idea to turn my fumbled speech into a band name,” Gary said.

I asked Naomi why it took so long to officially add a bass player to the lineup. “Bobby, Gary, and I had a very specific idea for the kind of music we wanted to play and we really just wanted to explore that freely without other people’s opinions or judgments,” she said. “After awhile we talked about adding bass, and Darren is an old friend from way back who played out with us a few times and had an appreciation for what we were playing, so it just made sense.”

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