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First Nation

First Nation

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Album Review

Equally primal, hypnotic, and delicate, First Nation's self-titled debut album expands on the sound they set forth on the Coronation single. There's a field recording intimacy to their experimental folk-rock (which makes their signing to Animal Collective's Paw Tracks label all the more understandable), particularly on the opening track, "Awakes," where the all-female trio's wordless vocalizing and layered percussion does indeed sound like a tribe or a herd of animals shaking off slumber. Even when they sing actual words, as on "Monkey," they still sound more than a little wild. Though Nina Mehta's and Kate Rosko's voices are individually delicate and even a bit on the thin side, they sound strong and tribal when they sing together, and use the contrasts in their tones (one has a sensually smoky voice much like Bardo Pond's Isobel Sollenberger, while the other has a high, keening timbre akin to Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead) with interesting harmonic and dissonant effects, particularly on "Omen" and "You Can Be." Throughout First Nation, the band uses the same simple elements — loping, prickly guitars, subtle polyrhythms, massed vocals, and the odd keyboard or flute — with remarkably complex and versatile-sounding results. "Female Trance," arguably one of First Nation's most immediate tracks, is far from gentle and passive; instead, its witty tango beat and snake-charming melody make it more like a spell being cast or a ritual being performed. Meanwhile, "Child's Eyes"' hopeful lyrics ride rippling guitars, and "Swells" throws ominous electronic noises in the mix. While there's definitely an organic ebb and flow to their songs (epitomized by the aptly and playfully named "Cave Jam"), they're remarkably well edited. "Waterfall," the album's final and longest track, is still a relatively short four and a half minutes long. The brevity of their songs, coupled with the elliptical dream logic on which they run, gives First Nation a mesmerizing tension and makes it a self-assured, unique debut.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Intuitively blending folk, noise, and snippets of pop into an organic, experimental whole, First Nation features singer/guitarists Nina Mehta and Kate Rosko and percussionist Melissa Livaudais. The New York City-based trio got its start when Mehta and Rosko, who had been playing together for a while, began jamming with mutual friend Livaudais (who was formerly a member of Wikkid and also plays in Telepathe). After spending a year practicing and honing their sound — which revolves around layered...
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First Nation, First Nation
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