No Hugs is an alternative rock band from Boston, MA formed by vocalist Narcissus A-Ngel in 2015. The other band members are Amaury Altmayer on electric guitar, Fernando Echeverry on drums, Jenn “The Red Man” on keys and Achal Murthy on electric bass. No Hugs’ notable achievements include winning the 2015 “Boston Battle of the Bands”, as well as headlining slots in Westbrook Live at 212 Halloween Festival and Salem, MA’s Halloween Festival. The band also opened for nationally acclaimed 80’s glam rock band Faster Pussycat at the legendary Palladium in Worcester, MA, and successfully completed their one year run with an East Coast tour (Boston, New York, Connecticut, Maine, South Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Baltimore) entitled “Summer Circus” in May 2016.
In December, No Hugs released their EP, “In Between” produced by Narcissus A-Ngel and Amaury Altmayer. And right off the cuff I can say that the songs on this extended play do everything in their power to exult the talents of this collective. There are hard edges, crunching guitar riffs, mellower and soaring ballads and Narcissus A-Ngel’s voice at the forefront. This is Rock n’ Roll!
Narcissus A-Ngel has some major singing tucked away in her lungs; she in my viewpoint ranks up there with some legendary female singers like Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson, Joan Jett, Linda Perry, and Grace Slick, to mention a few.I usually either love or hate rock voices and in this case – I love! Her voice sounds as though she has lived one hundred and fifty years, and not all of them were lived in an easy way either. She just gets it right, and you feel what she feels, as she is singing.
When Narcissus hits certain parts of her songs, you’ll get the chills on many an occasion. She is one of those super-lucky, stumble-upon finds for me. And I’m impressed right from when No Hugs kick off proceedings with the upbeat and funky alt rock track “Stigma”, which is filled with thumping bass lines and some amazing organ interludes as it races to its ecstatic conclusion.
The quality of Narcissus A-Ngel’s voice is again rather evident in “Let Me Be”. The edgy bourbon-tinged tone of her voice is extra special, and the more you listen the better it gets. She can pull off a song of ruthlessness and then, just as convincingly, sing of a longing desire to be deeply loved. Once you hear Narcissus A-Ngel here, you will never mistake her for anyone else…ever!
And on the gut-busting “Loneliness” she not only confirms the above statements, but takes her vocal performance one notch higher with some beautiful nuances and devastatingly dramatic tones. The track also features some fiery guitar work from Amaury Altmayer, making it one of my favorite cuts on the EP – until I got to “On Fire”.
Now I have two super favorite tracks on “In Between”. It’s clear that Narcissus A-Ngel can sing any genre, style, and tempo of song, maybe even the phonebook in a cappella style too. But like Ann Wilson, my all-time favorite female rock singer, I think Narcissus was really born to sing heartfelt ballads that turn into rock anthems. Their voices have a tendency to easily build, expand and explode alongside any musical instrument, and within any creative musical arrangement. Exactly as Narcissus does on “On Fire”.
There can be no doubt that No Hugs are a class act, with imaginative songwriting, superb instrumentalists, a rock steady rhythm section in bassist Achal Murthy and drummer Fernando Echeverry, plus the star quality of Narcissus A-Ngel.