» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
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
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Foreign Born
On the Wing Now
Dim Mak

Rating: 8.6/10 ?

August 22, 2007
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! According to their Kinko's Brite Ultra Orange B2 press-sheet, Foreign Born have signed a record deal, and I quote: "Holy Sh*t! Foreign Born signed a record deal! Yes, it's happened folks, meaning that the self-releasing days of hanging out at Kinko's are over." (Well, at least after this run of press copies). As the recipient of this good news, let me be among the first to congratulate the Los Angeles quartet of guitarist/songwriter Matt Popieluch, guitarist Lewis Pesacov, bassist Ariel Rechtshaid and "one man drum circle" Garrett Ray. And let me also tip my hat to Dim Mak for signing one of the more promising new bands I've heard all year, and releasing the band's debut, On the Wing Now.

Foreign Born are not feigning authenticity; nor are they shredding any notions of purist rock and roll. I could make a list of all the things this young band is not doing, but it would be an exercise in futility, because what does define them is their uncanny ability to play it straight and play it great. Like last year's toast-of-SoCal, Cold War Kids, Foreign Born are about the agitated, youthful energy they bring to atmospheric anthems.

Apparently, Popeiluch is known for walking around his house with his old Martin guitar and treating it with such abandon that it gets banged up against the hallways and doorways. His response is that the acoustic axe is "really just an extension of me. . .I write all my songs on this guitar, and it carries quite a rhythm when strummed like hell." This lax attitude pervades Popeiluch's songwriting, and gives his band a looseness that is refreshing. All eleven songs on On the Wing Now freely flow with a frayed flavor, and the simple production gives the album the vibe of a well recorded demo.

"Union Hall," which leads off, could be the rallying cry for Union Halls and VFW lounges throughout the land, "And I'll go back to the Union Hall/ there is no other place/ that looks so odd in sunlight/ so awful in the shade." Billy Bragg is smiling somewhere, and on that note, there is something noticeably British about Foreign Born. The incessant acoustic plunking, marching rhythms and angular guitar work brings to mind the dreamy Manchester scene, especially The Stone Roses. "Don't Take Back Your Time," is a perfect example: five minutes of unbroken strumming and tambourine over a simple one-two chord change, and the sole lyrics "We ain't got no time/ It's over now/ The age of learning how/ Don't take back your time," sung through copious reverb.

The strength of Foreign Born is that they don't pigeonhole themselves. While there are plenty of drenching hymns like "Keep it All Inside," there are counterweights like "Holy Splinter," a delicate ballad about loss of direction and disappearance. Like many terrific records I've heard this year, On the Wing Now winds down wonderfully. "In the Shape" is as pretty a song you'll hear all year, the fluid Psychedelic Furs drifting into the pointed Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. "Never Wrong" has Popeiluch singing down a register, over a simple drum beat: "Looking up/ lying on your back/ You could get up/ But you'd never last./ Never wrong." The songs fades, awash in layered harmonies and escalating guitar, bass and drums, and ends just before being overdone.

On the Wing Now is a record that will appeal to a wide variety of rock enthusiasts. It has enough proletariat DNA to hook fans of Green Day and Constantines, yet sufficient polish for devotees of The Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen. Foreign Born is the perfect name for this rising band, as they manage to sound acutely familiar and faintly remote and the same time. It's a fine balancing act, and it's spawned one of the more mature, consistent and satisfying albums of the year.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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