May 11, 2015

Lights brigade

A corps of past heroes has joined the present revolution.

Decorated stalwarts and frequent confederates Johnathon Ford (Unwed Sailor) and Bryce Chambers (Ester Drang) took up arms together and enlisted Native Lights in 2010, firing a two-track warning shot that sounded a clarion call for other factions to heed their advance. Ford and Chambers then quietly pulled back and sought refuge in an abandoned cattle auction house, where they marshaled a full-scale offensive. Commenced in March, the self-titled debut lays siege to a battlefield rife with toy soldiers and commissions Native Lights as a formidable force.


Native Lights charge over the hill with guns blazing. Chambers positions himself along the front line equipped to the essential pedalboard hilt, while Ford lobs an unyielding barrage of bass grenades from his familiar foxhole. They spark the album’s powder keg, “Black Wall Street,” by setting off a deluge of drop-D distortion and detailed delay designed to decimate anything in their path. This blitzkrieg draws white flags well before the final note; nevertheless, Native Lights relentlessly press the strategy forward.

“Blue Star” and “Sun Tzu,” bruising post-rock battering rams, pummel residual opposition into submission. Victory at hand, Ford and Chambers beckon survivors to pledge allegiance to their cause on “La Rosa” and “White Elephant.” The record’s two most tactically tuned turrets turn Native Lights from pillager to peacemaker and proclaim an end to hostilities in a hail of haunting harmonics and Chambers’ vigorous vocal sorties.


Having dismantled the heavy artillery, Ford and Chambers take time to savor the spoils, christening their conquered land with the invocational “Ruins” and tribalistic “Abuse Arcade.” “Stalin’s Organs” purifies the seizure as Ford leads a triumphant march to remove entrails littering the beachhead.

Native Lights are more than a reinforcement for the indie ranks. The cavalry may have decisively arrived.

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