Foreign Born – In the Remote Woods

album cover
This is good! They are opening for Rogue Wave in San Francisco in December. Go early and check them out. Rated 7.6 on, for what it’s worth.

check out their website here

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Difficult to pigeonhole yet instantly recognizable, Los Angeles-based Foreign Born vexes indie taxonomists like hardcore porn does Supreme Court justices, leaving critics to play the Potter Stewart “I know it when I see it” card rather than enumerate the requisites. In the Remote Woods is too fidgety for shoegazer, too upbeat for dour post-punk, and too varied for indie pop. Nevertheless, Foreign Born evoke all the familiar touchstones, stitching together Slowdive and the Stone Roses with newer benchmarks the Walkmen and Arcade Fire while carving their own niche alongside those artists.

Armed with bassist/producer and singer/composer tandem Lewis Pesacov and Matt Popieluch, these guys shrewdly cram every inch of the EP with lush keyboards and strings, complementing Popieluch’s taut, reverb-soaked melodies. Yet Garrett Ray’s aggressive drumming and driving tempos prevent this from being Souvlaki, not to mention Popieluch’s penchant for Bono-like theatrics. Opening track “The Entryway” shows off the group’s repertoire, beginning with a gritty goth bassline flanked by spotless synths and ringing guitar. From the first uttered lyrics, Popieluch steadily crescendos, nearly blowing out his vocal chords before a guitar solo brings the song home.

The EP’s middle tracks follow the precedent set by ex-Star Time behemoths the Walkmen. Standout “It Grew on You” cops the Walkmen’s searing guitar strumming and cataclysmic drum fills while Popieluch haphazardly slurs his lyrics a la Hamilton Leithauser. He’s no clone though, just Leithauser’s spirit bottled up inside a deeper, smoother croon. Dragging its feet on listless chords, “Exactly on the Verge”, though lacking in quirky, carnival playfulness, would fit nicely among Bows + Arrows nostalgic ballads, ending dolefully on the phrase “I was never so, so young.”

By the end of the record, the group runs low on ideas, and songs grow splotchy as a result. “Exactly on the Verge” both moves and drains as it structurally pales in comparison to its more complicated proceeding tracks. Closer “Remote Woods” starts with a primitive, fist-pumping riff pilfered from “I Will Follow”, but a mediocre verse leads only to a deflated chorus, and the repeated intro riff serves solely to resuscitate the song midway through. At final count though, Foreign Born’s tallies three shining nuggets and two intriguing yet fatigued tracks taken out of the oven too soon. It’s a sterling debut from a well-bred band only one caffeine fix away from a solid, potent full-length.

-Adam Moerder, August 26, 2005


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