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North of America: Brothers, Sisters

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if you like this you'll like: At the Drive-In, Fugazi, Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On, early Pavement.

REVIEW: North of America: Brothers, Sisters
7.3.2003 by Dusty

North of America: Brothers, Sisters [Level Plane, 2003] (mp3s)

Three words? art via noise

On paper, the story of a noisy art-punk band that has transformed into a noisy math-rocking art-punk band does not seem at all remarkable. But this can be blamed on the sonic limitations of paper. North of America's debut, These Songs are Cursed, was a dissonant, off-kilter college-rock gem. The band could have garnered a respectable career making albums stylistically similar to Cursed. But as time progressed, the band's releases became more bristled, angry and complex - and the further they strayed from their Pavement and Sonic Youth influences the better they got. North of America's third full-length release is Brothers, Sisters and there is a good chance it will end up being the best rock album you hear all year.

The dominant sound on Brothers is caustic guitar riffs, tag-team screaming, and jackhammer drumming paired with stadium-anthem choruses and melodies. Perhaps this is the creation of a new sub-genre: "stadium-math." "Keep it on The Download," the album's lead-off track and first single, is a pummeling sing-along with a guitar lead that sounds kind of like an alarm clock. But a really nice alarm clock. One of those Swiss ones that automatically adjusts for daylight savings time. Another stand-out is "Wet to Dance" marrying moody ramblings with a machine-gunning rhythm section. "Yes to Yes, Curse to Cursed" has a cool Alfred Hitchcock air and is destined to inspire a shot-by-shot remake of North by Northwest.

My only two complaints about Brothers, Sisters are the static-and-subliminal-message excursion "You want To Join My Cult" and the dismal chorus on the otherwise bad-ass "All Actors are Liars."

The average person casually listening to this new North of America album may immediately dismiss it as "just one more screamo CD." Of course, they will be wrong, and anyone willing to put a little time into Brothers, Sisters will be rewarded ten-fold. In gold bullion. Literally.

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