StillNative, 2013

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Blues-rock singer/songwriters tend to emphasize soul and flash in equal parts, thinking nothing of writing a heartfelt broken heart song with a five minute guitar solo. While these players get the credit for having the talent, the songs themselves generally live or die by the groove. A solo is great, but it  won't create music that moves you unless it is on top of a talented rhythm section that drives the song home.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

StillNative's Patrick Steele recognizes this, which is why the 10 songs on his debut album are nearly free of solos. Instead, Steele and Max Savage emphasize the groove, writing blues-inspired rock that blasts out of the subwoofer, emphasizing rhythm and attitude. StillNative is both greasy and slinky in equal parts, and if nothing really jumps out in the memory, the disc as a whole is a great soundtrack to a bleary beer-soaked evening that will lead to heartbreak, or possibly great sex.

"Cold 'N Thin" is a standout, packing drama into its three minutes, acted out by Steele's guitar lines and words like "Her life is trialed with sin / A heavy heartless old gout / That I support in vain / Your heart's cold and thin." It's as good as "Move My Way," which is lyrically slight but is equal parts skittish energy and deliberate leering, feeling much longer than its 2:40 run time.

A secondary element to Steele's songwriting appears to be lo-fi ‘90s garage rock. This is manifested in "All I Want" and "Fifth Avenue," which have little in common with the rest of the disc – picture Pavement fronted by Tom Petty – but the marriage of the styles is clear on "Shake Your Boots," which nearly jumps out of the speakers.

StillNative has been playing live shows for a while and brings that energy to the record, but the lack of strong melodies and hooks counters that energy somewhat, making this music something that is great for the moment but not terribly memorable the next day. Still, Steele and Savage are on to something here with this self-assured, energetic debut, and given a sharper set of melodies to go with the grooves, StillNative will hopefully receive the attention they deserve.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2013 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of, and is used for informational purposes only.