On their debut, Chief demonstrates that their rituals are a melting pot, obscuring the lines between influence and progress. Modern Rituals
is packed with harmonic hooks and pretty orchestrations, and they almost all seem to straddle the line between radio friendly superficiality and subconsciously meditative jams.
Chief is an interesting band... they emerged from California, having met at NYU. One of their memebers almost always has a goofy hat on. They seem to have some sort of Native American thing going on. And despite being a Domino band (a label notorious for off-beat, experimental wisps) their music seems like a pretty straightforward love-child of the best bits of Kings Of Leon, with the playfulness of Local Natives. But be warned; this isn't all casual listening, even though it's easy on the ears. Chief finds a way of engadging without making it known (showing, not telling), and the current of the record can be quite enjoyable (if you can find it).
They start with their right foot, if you're not careful "The Minute I Saw It" will be stuck in your brain for weeks. Most of the rest of the record follows in a different sort of ghostly path that seems difficult to place (and easy to put on in the background), and it makes sense (the band is a bi-coastal split personality after all). Thus Pacific surf rock gets a taste of Brooklyn, and vice versa. Sure, their mellow demeanor makes the whole affair easily ignored, but give it a shot. There is a deeper groove to discover, and it's worth the efforts of parsing through the odd harmonies and seemingly plain progressions.
Ultimately Chief isn't pushing any envelopes, so don't get too excited. But the ambiance is nice and the songwriting deeply enjoyable. Anyone who claims music just isn't as good as it used to be should dig deeper and find this band... the reason acts like Chief exist is to disprove curmudgeon-y cynics of the modern age. Good musicianship is like a double-edged sword sometimes... ignored by critics who want something more unique and futuristic, and ignored by nostalgics as having "been done". Meet in the middle, and Modern Rituals
feels as timely as it is an homage to electrified folk rock. -joe puglisi
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MP3: "Night And Day"
Chief on Myspace