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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
North of America
Brothers, Sisters
Level Plane Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Familiarity in music can be a good thing. Sometimes you just want to listen to songs that contain the nuts and bolts and close representations of music that has meant so much to you in your past. This doesn't mean it's boring or derivative necessarily (although it can). But when you buy a record and it sounds like music that you have loved for so long and it gives you that feeling of summertime in 11th grade but still retains the maturity and adult themes that you desire, you gotta appreciate that. What I am getting at here is that North of America's new album, Brothers, Sisters, is extra special and should be in your stereo all summer long.

The band hails from Nova Scotia, Canada and this is their second effort for Philadelphia's dependable Level Plane Records after a slew of releases on a plethora of other labels. The familiarity mentioned in the previous paragraph refers to the band's obvious and marked similarities to great bands like Fugazi, At the Drive In, Drive Like Jehu and Boy's Life, but North of America's changes, breakdowns and trade-off vocals are fresh and completely their own. Wearing your influences out in the open doesn't have to be pandering, and the D.C.-style post-hardcore heard here crashes through cables and wires from disc to eardrum and never caters to the lowest denominator. The album's first three songs are my favorites, bringing lyrical and musical styles and themes to the forefront in a nanosecond. "Keep it on the Download" commences the breakdown with ATDI tech-lyrics ("This is the age of wire and string, can we interface, can we?") and guitars that sound like electrical currents as the ring from soft to loud. "Wet to Dance" blasts off at a furious pace and fuzzy production allows vocals and bass to seep and blend with some analog synth as the nucleus of the song gets bigger and bigger. "Let's Get Sick to Our Stomachs" starts out with pretty keys and whining organ sounds before launching into the glorious joys of Post-Punkô, vocals shouted here, uttered there. Later on, things slow down a bit with "Oh My God, Oh My God, Everybody, Oh My God." That (familiar) lo-fi produced beginning sound of tinny vocals and guitars is employed before Mark Mullane's and Michael Catano's helicoptering guitars flood the mix as they trade off politely, "Thank you! You're welcome!"

North of America are vibrant and alive in their music instead of getting bogged down in history lessons of imitation and idol worship. Brothers, Sisters is truly an album to listen to for the rock; not the post-rock, not the electro-rock and certainly not the garage-rock. Yes you've heard this before, but you haven't heard it quite like this. North of America are a cup of cocoa to settle down with on your stressful winter night, a ratty teddy bear to sleep with on your visit home from college. Familiar can be good.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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