Under Review: Chief – Modern Rituals

There’s something about bands with one-word names.  They’re bold, definitive, and mysterious.  The shorter the word, the more striking the name.  QueenBlurAir.  Now there’s Chief, a group of Santa Monica youngsters who met while attending NYU.  Modern Rituals is the band’s debut album, and it combines a lot of what’s been going on in the indie rock universe throughout the year.  At times, Chief channels the solid rock of Arcade Fire (“Nothing’s Wrong”), the rootsy twang of Deer Tick (“Stealing”) and the spooky harmonies of Local Natives (“In The Valley”).  It’s not that Chief haven’t got any original ideas (closing track “Night & Day” is a real gem), rather they are too busy trying to improve on other bands’ sounds that they rarely make themselves unforgettable.  That’s a real shame, because lead singer Evan Koga has a pretty great voice.  The songs aren’t too shabby, either, though the most of the lyrics shuffle by without making a hard landing.  Early singles hinted at some inspired stuff, and Modern Rituals continues that hinting.  Thing is, Chief don’t need to change too much about themselves to make their next outing all the better.  It might sound daunting, but a more focused direction and some hookier songs would do these guys a lot of good next time around.  Despite their singular band name, Chief have a long way to go before becoming an indispensible part of whatever scene they settle down with.  Still, as band after band appears and disappears this year, Chief is one to continue to look out for.

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~ by E. on September 10, 2010.

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