Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

music Home > Record Reviews

Sound Tracks

First Nation: First Nation

First Nation: First Nation

Label:Paw Tracks
Release Date:2006

By Marc Masters | Posted 6/28/2006

An interesting tension runs through the debut album by Brooklyn trio First Nation. Anyone who’s got college in their rearview mirror knows that “interesting” doesn’t necessarily equal “good,” but for First Nation it mostly does. That’s because Kate Rosko, Nina Mehta, and Melissa Livaudais rarely let their shards of melody and bursts of momentum gel into full-on songs, instead building a teasing cycle of heavy anticipation and rare release. In that sense—and in their choppy rhythms and crayon-simple guitar lines—First Nation’s skeletal sketches recall fractured all-femme postpunk pioneers like the Slits and the Raincoats. But even compared to those rule benders, First Nation makes unusually disjointed music.

First Nation opens with the slow fade-up of “Awakes,” whose chants build to a climax that never arrives. Soon after, the almost-catchy “Female Trance” takes an intermittent lunge at rhythm that sounds like Deerhoof minus the riffs. Eventually a few clunkers pop up: “Omen” buries a sneaky melody line under too many moans, and the simplistic “You Can Be” pushes the trio’s childlike tendencies to awkward extremes. But even the weakest moments have an eager energy, and when First Nation hits on a good idea, it kills it. “Swells” grafts a punchy stomp onto enticing vocal harmonies, while the instrumental “Cave Jam” enchants through halting beat and interlocking flutes. Whether the trio can turn its teasing tricks into durable moves is a lingering question, but for now First Nation makes the answer worth waiting for. (Marc Masters)

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter