The Natural History

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The Natural History -- brothers Max Tepper and Julian Tepper on guitar/vocals and bass respectively, and drummer Derek Vockins -- are a smart, college-bred band (Vockins even has a M.A. in Education from NYU). Like a lot of gritty bands congesting the New York City music scene, this trio has a penchant for plundering through art-pop albums from the late '70s for inspiration. They often name-check a wide assortment of mostly British groups and artists they admire -- Elvis Costello & the Attractions, XTC, and Wire are three of the ones that get the most ink -- though their own angular, guitar-driven post-punk pop could just as easily point you back to Gang of Four or the Pixies as influences. Producer Greg Talenfeld (the French Kicks, Pavement, Beck, Jonathan Fire*eater, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) recorded the group over two days time in his Nyack, NY, home studio, and certainly has a certifiable knack for helping this band achieve a coarse garage-punk sound that best fits the mood of their songs. "Telling Lies Will Get You No Where" spikes into the red with a jagged, distorted guitar and Max Tepper's emo rock-style vocals are unadorned and raw. "The Progress Chart" bristles with brittle guitars and an insistent backbeat, while "So He'll Say" chimes along with brittle intensity. The remaining tracks have a similar feel, though Tepper's lead vocals don't seem to vary much from one song to the next. All in all, this short five-song self-titled EP -- released by the Brooklyn-based Startime International label (the French Kicks and the Walkmen) -- is a fine start.

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