Los Angeles’ Foreign Born make a strong splash on their debut LP, On the Wing Now. Heat has been building on the foursome for a little while now, after touring with the likes of We Are Scientists, Cold War Kids, and Rogue Wave, and Grizzly Bear guitarist Ed Droste dubbing them his “favorite new band”. And they just broke into the mainstream field of view, with an appearance on the series premiere of NBC’s Chuck, on the first night of the new fall season. Thankfully, On the Wing Now, while not an indie-rock reinvention, more than lives up to the exposure.
Foreign Born take the indie-country, alt-road highways and byways to some catchy and resonating material. On the Wing Now is strongest when it is most upbeat, like with Chuck’s “Into Your Dream”, whose driving rhythm and drums give the feel of a brighter Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. “It Wasn’t Said To Ask” has a winning guitar jangle, while the expansive Brit-rock of “In the Shape” washes over the listener, and carries him or her along.
But most of On the Wing Now is sadder fare, and while not as uniformly excellent as the few shinier pieces, there is still much gold in thar’ hills. The tragically pretty “Trial Wall” powers itself with emotion (its chorus of “Five years” bringing to mind the David Bowie Ziggy Stardust song of the same name). The world-weary dancehall gospel of opener “Union Hall” and the haunting “The Nights Tall” serve as a nice change on the record, without going too far or being unable to stand on its own.
Other somber tracks on On the Wing Now don’t quite have as much substance, and there is a bit of a feeling that Foreign Born is picking and choosing from others, rather than melding it all into something of their own. But they’ve definitely stolen from all the right sorts, the first thing you could ask for from a debut, and given it enough power to stay relevant and justify their own takes, which is the thing you could ask for.