ALBUM REVIEW: Natives – Indoor War

Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2014/03/13/natives-indoor-war/

nativesFrom playing in front of empty bars to then gaining the support of Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, New Forest band Natives have been working hard in the studio to produce debut album Indoor War. Set for release on March 17 the album centres on a character named Alvima who decides to ditch emotion and live his life on logic and science alone after suffering a huge loss.

Guitarist Jack Fairbrother claims that “it’s fairly simple to write music which is instantly infectious and I also think it’s equally simple to write music so personal that it reads like a diary and feels deeply profound.” This certainly shines through Indoor War with a collection of catchy hooks and good beats to get your feet tapping. ‘Can’t Say No’ is certainly one of these tracks with a captivating energy that listeners will find easy to sing along and relate to. While ensuing a primarily pop punk vibe there is an essence of something a little different in this album. It hinges towards an extra hint of rock in different forms with the odd few guitar riffs that tend to be heard at the hands of light and balmy indie bands. These riffs however are utilised in such a way to suit the pop rock vibe of Natives while demonstrating a wider angle in their sound. ‘L.O.V.E’ for example starts off with a strong air of pop yet the rock side of the band does creep out in little segments. In relation to the character Alvima, the band have said themselves that “half way through the album there is this moment where he just lets it all out and embraces emotion” and this is most probably that point, in case the song title didn’t give it away. In contrast to the previous pop outburst, following track ‘Big Plans’ is much heavier in its approach and so marks the start of a revival in Alvima’s character, which develops through to final track ‘For Everything’.

Natives have nailed a consistent narrative rich in energy with a little slice of diversity resulting in Indoor War which serves as a debut album that some bands may only dream of. It is only fair to say then that Fairbrother wasn’t just being cocky when he said writing this kind of music was “fairly simple”.

ALBUM REVIEW: As It Is – This Mind Of Mine (For Electric Banana)

As It Is are a fresh faced pop punThis Mind Of Minek group from Brighton fronted by an American singer offering a dynamic in vocals against their otherwise typically pop punk sound. The band are set to tour the UK throughout February before releasing new EP, This Mind Of Mine on March 17th.

Though there is still a strong market for pop punk it seems that any group put under this genre seem to be doing the same thing. While this can be said for As It Is, This Mind Of Mine offers the promise of something a little different. The four track EP opens with ‘Bitter Broken Me’ and it couldn’t be more pop punk if it tried. The rough around the edges aesthetic is certainly in place however a hint of harmonic vocals throughout offer something a little easier on the ears. It is the same technique that makes following track ‘Horoscopes’ a worthy song. Coarse the vocals may be, but rounded off with a melodic charm they display a kind of teen angst that put them into context. The distinction between British and American accents create an alternative twist on the song that for the most part works in making the EP stand out from the norms of pop punk.

Third track ‘Can’t Save Myself’ displays more mellow vocals and this time the combination of different accents don’t quite complement each other until you get to the chorus and even then the vocals are slightly weak. Rather than letting the band down however, this adds to the rough cut feel of the EP. In fact the let down in this song is the ending, built up by the anticipation of a fast paced middle-eight, we are left with a retreat to the sound of the verses before, thus offering no sense of progress.

Final track, ‘Relive This Story’ begins with a mere whisper of vocals overpowered by guitar, a technique that could be improved with a more enticing set of music. Though this song starts as a delicate closing track, the rough vocals creep their way back in, giving us that ending that the previous track was missing as well as the twist to suggest that As It Is can push themselves beyond the pop punk stereotype.

This Mind of Mine is undoubtedly your typical pop punk EP, you have your rough vocals, no over production and a little sense of self hatred. What it is lacking is a unique perspective of the genre to put As It Is above similar groups but perhaps that is yet to come.