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Music Reviews

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Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Native Canadians

Rating: 8.1/10 ?

October 6, 2008
On any given rock album, the presence of incorruptible guts and hunger makes for the game-breaker. Fortitude is a catalyst that can transform an hour-long sequence of notes into a record that defines genres and generations. This may explain why almost all of the albums we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts are made by men and women under the age of thirty - it's rare to find someone who still wants to fuck your shit up when they're also financing a mortgage or dragging children to Tae Kwon Do practice.

So when you hear about a band like Fiasco, you should get really excited. (Are you ready?) Considering their energy level, I'm not sure these guys have even made it out of high school. Their ages, however, make no difference; they embody the spirit of rock and roll. With no lyrics, no love songs, and no choruses, Native Canadians is the type of album to play while driving around smashing the mailboxes of senior citizens or pissing your name in the snow of some neighbor's front lawn, with cheap beer in hand, only to turn around and see your buddies drive off. At under twenty-two minutes, Native Canadians is as gloriously brief as adolescence and close to being just as furious and fun. From the opening track, "Steve Herman," to the obvious and appropriate Stooges reference of "I Wanna Be Your Cat," the group's raw intensity and drive rarely, if ever, lets up. Melodies exist, but they aren't restrained by any standard pop approachability or structure, and the Brooklyn three-piece show a talent and complexity that belies their age, along with a palpable and inspiring chemistry and dedication.

"Oh, You Horny Monster!" is the album's lead single, and it showcases much of what makes Native Canadians worth hearing. The track contains an abstract, mathematical melody that is paired with brute force and an admirable and palpable passion. While it lasts for barely two minutes, "Horny Monster," along with its bizarre and somehow completely fitting video [link], reasserts the postulate that has invigorated rock and roll since the release of "My Generation" - namely that if you can't do it with less than four tracks and an electric guitar, at least in some primitive form, there are better ideas out there.

That doesn't mean that Fiasco aren't capable of pushing themselves. "I Figure It's Better We Do Something Ridiculous Than Nothing at All," arguably the album's centerpiece, is over six minutes in length and morphs from punisher to intellectual at least three times, expanding the band's hardcore/math-rock template and showing the true potential of their approach. It rocks while still searching for new answers to old questions. Opener "Steve Herman" is the effort's most straightforward wrecking ball, and "I Wanna Be Your Cat" brings everything to an ecstatic and abrupt end, leaving an impression of a group that has only just begun its own hardcore odyssey. In six songs, Native Canadians is Fiasco reclaiming the garage as a place of legitimate expression and force, and that they've done so is wonderful.

It is the very rawness and enthusiasm that marks the recording, however, that also keeps it from becoming a masterpiece. While the energetic edge makes the record fresh and fun, Native Canadians is too irresponsible and relentless, and while its exciting and full of potential, Fiasco are not essential. Not yet. Pretty caterpillars turn into grander butterflies, and Native Canadians is most definitely a striking caterpillar inching into its cocoon.

Reviewed by Dave Toropov
Introduced to music in the womb with a pair of headphones on his mother's stomach, Dave Toropov has yet to recover the experience. A writer based in Boston and New York, he has also written for Prefix Magazine and What Was It Anyway, and is the maintainer of the "Middleclass Haunt" blog.

See other reviews by Dave Toropov



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