If more bands made unrelenting rock ‘n roll like New York City’s Native Sun, no one would be mentioning the genre as one being on its last legs. The quartet of Dany Gomez (vocals/guitar), Jake Pflum (lead guitar), Alexis Castro (drums), and Mo Martinez (bass) are throwbacks, as their music features one hyper-drive guitar riff and explosive rhythm after another. This explains why their new EP, Always Different, Always the Same, sounds like a 90-minute, sweat-inducing concert, but the record only has six songs. Then again, it’s worth repeating multiple times in order to experience the adrenaline rush over and over again.
The perspiring effects commence immediately with the aptly-titled “Hippie Speedball”, which is a 189-second whiplash in the mould of FIDLAR and Twin Peaks. The frenetic approach perfectly mirrors Gomez’s story of an outsider who desperately wants to be accepted by the masses, and he’ll go to great lengths to be included in this mediocre group. Native Sun go retro, specifically the late ’70s and early ’80s on The Strokes-esque “11th Street”. A smooth groove streams easily through the early melodic rock tones, but they eventually give way to a feisty finale. Gomez, meanwhile, sounds like Julian Casablancas when he was 22 with a story to match. He tells the tale of, as the band puts it, “Samuel Beckett in an urban landscape rejoicing in the unknown”. The poetic imagery is clever and amusing, as one can envision the famed novelist and playwright strutting down the Champs-Élysée like John Travolta.
The four-piece go high octane on the roaring “Big Succ(ess)”. It trembles at the beginning and then erupts into a seismic rocker that is the equivalent of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The guitar riffs are off-the-charts while the rhythms are sonic uppercuts, hitting each listener’s face with the ferocity of a Mike Tyson delivery. These gents, though, aren’t hear just to make noise. They’re also here to make a statement. On this tune, they’re leading the charge to reclaim new immigrants’ lives in America. They won’t be pushed around nor bullied anymore, as they’re here to stay and contribute to the American Dream.
Native Sun slightly take their foot off the accelerator on the ’70s ultra-cool rocker “Swoon”. This is the anthem of a man who doesn’t give two shits and walks with his head held high. He knows what he likes, he knows he’s different, and he is going to live his life to the fullest. But of course, the band cannot stay in the melodic sphere for long. On “Modern Music”, they channel their inner Buzzcocks and deliver one feverish punk tune. The song is barely over two minutes long, but it feels like a twenty-minute blazer with the intense guitars and the barreling percussion leading the way. Gomez’s lyrics are once again entertaining, as he takes a backhanded slap at today’s popular music.
The EP draws to a close with yet another retro blazer in “Sweet V”. Horns join the classic arrangements, and they give the track a Billy Joel-meets-Van Halen vibe. It’s catchy, fun, and full of awesome hooks. The bridge and transition are pieces of genius, as they showcase how rock ‘n roll can still surprise and impresses. This is much like Native Sun, who are a band that won’t let rock ‘n roll die. On the contrary, they’re doing their part to resurrect it – one awesome record at a time.
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