Foreign Born – Person to Person
Foreign Born is a (domestic!) four piece out of Los Angeles. The boys joined forces in 2003, were scooped up by uber-indie label Secretly Canadian, and released Person to Person, their second full length. It’s a catchy, sunny and upbeat album. It is perfect, on first listen, to imagine putting several tracks on your playlist for a road trip up the coast, but with enough torment, density, and lush arrangements to keep it from being a once-round wonder. While comparisons to Grizzly Bear and The Walkmen are not necessarily unfounded, they’re also not quite informative. There are moments of African percussion and cowbells followed by 80s U2-esque drum beats with haunting vocals to match, and airy guitar rifts. The songs feel vintage, without feeling trite or precious. These are tightly recorded pop ballads with danceable beats and stuck-in-your head choruses. Though released in 2009, Person to Person is certain to put Foreign Born at the forefront of this year’s indie discussion. Catch them locally at Rickshaw Stop 2/24 with Free Energy as part of the Noise Pop festival.
Sounds Like: A West Coast answer to Vampire Weekend
Listen To: Wander Aimlessly, Vacationing People, Early Warnings
All My Friends – We Have No Faith in Machines EP
All My Friends is a Canadian synth-pop duo from Vancouver BC. The two eagerly site their major influences as Passion Pit, MGMT, Phoenix and The Postal Service. It is not hard to hear how these influences come through on their sparse Microkorg-produced EP. Well, The Postal Service part anyway. The boys certainly know their way around a synthesizer. Unfortunately, it lacks the layered arrangements, lyrical complexity, and production polish that make these groups excellent. Things look up for them on the ever so slightly more complex “Tonight Happens”, a little bit grittier New Wave-influenced track, and “Secret Smiles”, which could be a big dance-pop hit if it had more than a chorus. With the recent explosion of Owl City, that inexplicably popular baron of annoying emo electronica, it is not surprising that more boys would want to churn out basement albums made only with a synthesizer and a laptop. While All My Friends have wisely refrained from an embrace of auto-tune, tracks like “Stay” and “Another Morning” fall in that category.
Sounds Like: Owl City at worst, The Postal Service at best.
Listen To: Tonight Happens, Secret Smiles