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Record review: North America- North America (2009)

North America's eponymous debut is avaliable now at Natural Sound.

North America is on a role. After a brilliant set at Burt's this spring with D Numbers (Santa Fe), a west-coast tour, and an after-party DJ slot at the Animal Collective/Black Dice show, they’re starting to demand some attention. So how does their eponymous first album hold up?

The group is a two-piece, comprised of twin brothers Josh and Jesse Hasko, and their sound is a lively instrumental mix of digital samples, looped guitar and live drums. The songs are unique but the recordings fail to capture the magic of their live set. The drums are too thin and the added punch and distortion of live-electronics turned loud is sorely missed. The mix is also slightly subdued, you really need to crank it to get some depth and really wrap your ears around the tones (which you should). Part of the appeal of their live show is the twins' obvious chemistry, steady focus, and matching beards, but there's just no way to capture that on record.

Still, the album has some offerings of its own. The tempo and loop lengths are more locked in than they sometimes are live, and the songs may not hit you in the chest but they can still wash over your brain. Standout tracks "Synthetic" and “Ridgewood” catch you off guard with cascading, delay-drenched melodies. In short, North America’s debut might not do the band’s live show justice, but it's a solid album in a different, more ambient way.

It's available at Natural Sound for around ten dollars.