Non Canon treads new ground for debut album

Non CanonBarry Nolan says that his new project, Non Canon, “exists apart from the story we know and love.” The last time I checked, non-canon was also a way to describe fan fiction, and not a lot of good has ever come from that (sorry, 50 Shades of Grey fans).

Barry Nolan is better known for his Bristolian solo project turned band, Oxygen Thief. Nolan reverts back to basics for his new project Non Canon, with an album of the same name. Using acoustic instruments and adopting a softer voice, eponymous debut Non Canon makes for a much more mellow sound. This is a kind of fan-fiction that I can get behind.

It started as a little challenge to myself to see if I could write something other than the loud riffy stuff I’ve always done with Oxygen Thief and previous bands I was in,” says Barry.  The two bands have their similarities, however. They both use articulate, confessional lyrics and feature Nolan’s anglicised vocals. Non Canon errs towards English folk punk and is therefore probably better suited to fans of Frank Turner and Beans on Toast.

Opening track “Splinter Of the Mind’s Eye” is also the title of a widely debated ‘is it canon? is it non canon?’ Star Wars novel, which I’m sure was intentional (?). “I’m afraid of sad songs, afraid of what they’ll do… So I made a firm decision that I’d hardly ever listen and I’d never sing them to myself or you.” There seems to be a fearful obsession with sad songs, which is surprising as most of the songs on this album aren’t happy in definition. Another example is “Home Alone 3”: “I go to the bar in sad songs, feigning indifference when it’s really a matter of self-defense.

By the 9th track, “Memory Beta”, the notion has lost its magic: “I could write the saddest song, I could break your heart with tales that I’ve kept secret from so many for so long.” It goes on to say that Nolan won’t do that as a “problem shared is a problem multiplied.” Sadness can be cathartic. It reminds me of a time I went to see Neil Gaiman talk about his new book. He said that his comedian friends are usually the saddest whereas his horror writer pals are the happiest as they get to exorcise their demons. Maybe Non Canon could do with just writing a couple of super emo songs just to get it all off his chest.

Release: 28th October 2016, Xtra Mile Recordings

 
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