Modern Phenomena

Northern American

Heist Or Hit, 2015

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


For a band that appears to be carefree and super laidback, Northern American sure has put a lot of care and effort into their debut Modern Phenomena, which has turned out to be a pretty solid album. This Los Angeles-based quartet doesn’t downplay their SoCal identity at all, especially in their music.

Modern Phenomena is a breezy album that has all the qualities of a calm and relaxed day at the beach. The band’s brand of elegantly crafted genteel rock music walks on a tightrope, where one false move means a quick descend into the world of gutless and insipid rock music. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Similar to present-day U2, Northern American’s music is very likeable. However, unlike present-day U2, this music doesn’t dumb down to the level of mediocrity just to seek acceptance of the masses. But there are traces of the jangly U2 of the ‘80s, along with – and to a greater extent – influences of bands like Echo And The Bunnymen and The Verve (minus the weirder aspects of either bands) because of the mix of post-punk and neo-psychedelic sound of this album.

“Don’t you feel like whatever?” sings vocalist Nate Paul wistfully on the opening track, “Feel Like Whatever.” If this was any other band, this statement could be some kind of angst-ridden rebellious celebration of apathy – but not the guys of Northern American, who are just too chill to get hung up on some puerile sense of defiance. At the same time, this sense of nonchalance in the band isn’t a product of hipster irony either (even considering that the band members are good looking hipsters); instead, it is a truly earnest and most importantly a genuinely mature sentiment.

This nonchalance in the track “Feel Like Whatever” flows like a positive vibration through the rest of the songs on Modern Phenomena: how Californian of the Northern American boys! This album is as relaxed as rock music can get without turning into elevator music, and that’s no small feat on the part of the band. For instance, when the band adds a surprise reggae vibe to the album’s title track, they manage to do so without making it sound like floppy background music for a “fun” and “relaxed” advertisement for (insert any alcoholic beverage name here). Northern American’s music is way too classy to appear even remotely prosaic.

Rating: A-

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© 2015 Vish Iyer 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 Heist Or Hit, and is used for informational purposes only.