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CD Review: The North Atlantic – Wires In The Walls

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Sometimes there are bands that break up and should stay broken up. Sometimes there are bands that break up, get back together, and you wish they had stuck to their first instinct. There are some bands whose mark is left years after their break-up, before they even knew of their importance and influence. These bands make you wish you had known about them earlier so you had the chance to see them live just once. To me, some of these bands are Saetia, Lifetime, Mineral, and The North Atlantic; I will get my wish from The North Atlantic (and Lifetime).

The North Atlantic was formed in 1999 in Kalamazoo, Michigan – yes, that is actually a real place. The band relocated to San Diego in 2000, and after many national tours, decided to call it quits in 2003. Singer/guitarist Jason Hendrix decided to leave the band and go to college in Chicago only three months after Wires in the Walls was self-released. Time passed, and distance couldn’t keep the band apart. One reunion show turned into a few tours, which turned into the decision to keep The North Atlantic going, just like the motion of the ocean.

Wires in the Walls will be re-released in July 2006 by We Put Out, a label that is creating an indie-buzz. I have to thank them, and the band for coming together again and giving me a chance to be at the record (re-)release party in July in New York.

Wires in the Walls is pure intensity, fueled by Jason Hendrix’s catchy riffs and urgent vocals, his brother Cullen’s compulsive drumming and bound together by Jason Richard’s bass playing. The album starts off with about 25 seconds of hand-clapping, building momentum for the spazzy , turbo-charged opener to this 48-minute soon-to-be post-punk staple. “Drunk Under Electrics”. The two following tracks keep your head nodding as it’s blown back and forth by the rock coming from your speakers.

The album takes a turn in momentum at its standout track, “Scientist Girl.” The bass-heavy song is by far the catchiest track on the album and the one song that hits home with me in particular. It’s a tell-off to a former lover and my former lover actually happens to be a scientist girl. The last verse is kind of juvenile but the statement rings true: “I’d rather listen to my Clash records all night than be with you.”

After “Scientist Girl” is “Bottom Of This Town,” which is a synth-driven lament and marks a decline in energy, but Wires in the Walls never loses its intensity. The last track, “The Ministry of Helicopters,” closes out the album the way it started – fast and furious. The shouted vocals found in the beginning verses of the opening track are mimicked here but the groovy baseline and upbeat drumming definitely separate the two. "The Ministry of Helicopters" seven minutes will have your head in disarray with its tempo changes and danceable bridge.

The North Atlantic’s Wires in the Walls combines New York post-punk with San Diego art-punk to form something they can call their own. It also sounds like they may have run into fellow Michigan post-everythingers Bear Vs Shark, who have a similar sound to The North Atlantic. If you are mourning the loss of Bear Vs Shark and hoping they take a hint and re-unite, then definitely give The North Atlantic a listen.

Fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hot Snakes, Bear Vs Shark, The Dismemberment Plan, The Blackout Pact, Lock And Key, The Blood Brothers, At The Drive-in, Cursive, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Hint Hint, We Regazzi, Forsake Ya To The Snakes, Les Savy Fav and Small Brown Bike will dig this album. Check out The North Atlantic, it’s not very often you are given a second chance to make a first impression.

For more information, tour dates, MP3s, videos, or to pre-order the album, visit The North Atlantic’s homepage.

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  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

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