FOREIGN BORN-“Person to Person”

Los Angeles foursome Foreign Born deliver Person to Person this month, on what is fast becoming one of my favorite independent labels, Secretly Canadian.  The album is remarkable not because it breaks ground or changes rock and roll as you know it, but because it does so well what you already know so well.

Like so many bands today, Foreign Born borrow heavily from the classic rock canon.  There are shades of David Bowie on “See Us Home,” for example.  (No, those swells and crashes aren’t like Arcade Fire or The Talking Heads.  Know your history!)  “It Grew On You” recalls 1950s psychedelia, improved by technical proficiency and incredible production.  And if “Winter Games” doesn’t borrow the main riff from “Last Train to Clarksville,” I’ll eat my hat.

In the past, the word “anthemic” has been used with frequency to describe this band.  The word is not inappropriate, but it fails to convey the detail in their work.  The Killers make anthems: Big riffs, big vocals, and a thick sound.  Those items are Foreign Born’s shopping basket too, to be sure, but there’s so much else going on here, too.  Like the bubbling notes that introduce “Vacationing People,” the skillfully placed vocal overdubs, and the intricate drumwork on every single cut.  Powerful lyrics sung with staggering skill, incredible musicianship, and songs that move from the sweet to the killer, from toe tappers to heart warmers, make this one of the best albums of the second half of 2009.

Vacationing People

Early Warnings


My Body is a Cage (Arcade Fire)-Sara Lov

Rock N Roll Suicide (David Bowie)-Rilo Kiley

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