We Are Nots, the debut full-length from Memphis garage-punk quartet Nots, carries the city's DNA in its tense, turbulent sound.

We Are Nots, the debut full-length from Memphis garage-punk quartet Nots, carries the city's DNA in its tense, turbulent sound.

"Memphis has a direct influence on the music we're writing," said singer/guitarist Natalie Hoffmann, 26, who joins bandmates Charlotte Wilson (drums), Alexandra Eastburn (synthesizer) and Meredith Lones (bass) for a concert at the Dude Locker on Saturday, Aug. 15. "There's definitely a notable economic divide here, and that tension carries into the music, for sure. There's a lot of anger, too. Our city is really horribly run, and money gets put into these multimillion dollar projects that don't pan out … when it could have been dispersed to parts of the city that really need it."

These mounting frustrations frequently boil over on We Are Nots (Goner). "There is no home!" Hoffman and Co. (choruses are often shouted in unison, the bandmates balling together like fingers into a fist) howl on "Black Mold," digging in atop a locomotive backdrop built on a deep, incessant bassline, cat-scratch guitars and synths that mimic an astronomer dialing in some distant satellite frequency. Elsewhere, songs touch on rampant consumerism ("Decadence"), the paranoia brought on by seemingly inescapable surveillance ("Insect Eyes") and various tensions rooted in the racial and economic disparities that have become an increasing part of the national dialogue in recent months ("Strange Rage").

A handful of lineup shifts prior to recording sessions, which took place off and on in August and September of 2014, further informed the record's chaotic feel, and there were times Hoffmann worried things might topple over completely.

"I'm glad we put the chaos to good use and not destructive use, because it felt like it was teetering for a while," she said, crediting the bandmates' generally even-keeled demeanors ("We share this attitude … where you just run with things") and the calming presence of producer Doug Easley, who hosted sessions at his East Memphis studio ("His level of chill helped us level out a bit"), with steadying the ship.

Even at the album's most bleak, the iron-tough music resists any give, and there's a sense throughout that the bandmates are intent on holding to some kernel of humanity in an environment they see becoming increasingly corrupt and depraved.

"You want to address the things that are affecting humanity as a whole, but to me it's lazy to take that fully pessimistic way out," said Hoffmann, a longtime poet whose lyrical approach is further informed by science-fiction writers like Philip K. Dick and revolutionary texts by authors Howard Zinn ("A People's History of the United States") and Naomi Klein ("The Shock Doctrine"), both of whom were introduced to the musician by a favorite freshman year professor at the Memphis College of Art. "I'm not sure what that want to be connected [stems from] … but it is about needing to hold onto some hope in a world riddled with paranoia and despair, to put it lightly."

Though the songs tend to adopt a broad, cultural perspective, a majority of them are born of intensely personal experiences. "Black Mold," for one, started to take shape after the singer and her boyfriend uncovered black mold in their apartment - a discovery that forced the two to take refuge in the rundown hotel arm of a nearby casino since it was the most affordable locale available on short notice. With time, however, the song started to shift and take on new meaning, evolving into a treatise on corporate greed and the way capitalistic principles can eat away at the foundation of a society.

"If there was something going on with me, or someone I knew and loved, the songs might loosely reference that as a starting point, but then I always want to bring it broader," said Hoffmann, who relocated to Memphis eight years ago from the small town of Nixa, Missouri. "When I was younger I used to write almost solely personal [songs and poems], but I started to realize, no, you have to connect all these things to the larger problems. Everything exists in a broader context."

This extends to Hoffmann's life in Memphis - a city she loves deeply in spite of its well-chronicled flaws.

"I met a guy here when I was getting my oil changed and he was like, 'What do you do?' And I was like, 'Oh, I'm a musician in a punk band.' And he was like, 'That's cool. I'm a jazz drummer,'" said Hoffman, who was born to an engineer father and a homemaker mother and started playing guitar at 13 years old, teaching herself using web tutorials she downloaded via about.com. "I loved it in Missouri, but it didn't have that musical identity. When I told people in Missouri I played in a band they were never like, 'I play drums!' More often they were like, 'What? What are you doing with your life?'"