Northern American – Modern Phenomena

Posted by vibrations on 08-09-15

At the moment we seem to be enjoying a conveyor belt of North American guitar bands gorging themselves on a rich seam of expansive sounds from the British Indie Top 20 era, and more often than not, coming up with something fresh and vibrant when so many home grown acts have failed.

Californian quartet Northern American are the next in line with a double handful of compositions on the rather auspicious ‘Modern Phenomena’, released on Heist or Hit records. Their own take also comes with lashings of native sunshine, smoothing off any rough edges and leaving us with an accomplished yet laid-back sound belying a band making their debut album, no doubt also sounding great whilst driving along the Pacific Highway with the roof down. Perhaps the quality of the songs here is down to the truly collective effort involved in the recordings with Nate Paul (guitar/vocals), Shane Ash (keyboards), Augusto Vegas (bass) and Bruno Calenda (Drums) all contributing words and music throughout.

‘Feel Like Whatever’ gets us underway in lush fashion, fluffy and upbeat in tone yet more sombre in word. ‘So Natural’ is similarly silky smooth with perhaps a more infectious hook than its predecessor, soaring and swooping whilst nicely underpinned by a gentle groove. The title track is even more voluminous, almost anthemic in fact, without falling into that terrace-indie trap, whereas ‘Somewhere Out There’ is more skittish without losing any of its sheen.

We then get a slightly cheesy slab of retro synth on ‘Blue’ but again the pop melody is sweet enough to just about carry the song off. ‘Days Between’ is more percussive and funky whereas ‘You Remind Me’, ’Strange Behaviour’ and ‘Nothing Personal’ all ooze dreamy sophisticated pop in slightly different ways. Closer ‘Elysian’ is more ambitious with an even more organic sound as slide guitar weaves in and out of bar-room piano, turning this into a rustic tinged road-trip of a song, ending beautifully and perhaps reminding the listener of a rugged coastline at sunset.          

Mike Price

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