Last Night in LA
The Natural Disasters are just these two dudes: Brian Demski-drums Matt Eckel-guitar + vocals Things began innocently enough, playing jazz before they were even teenagers in Chicago (Brian) and Philadelphia (Matt)-cities with long-standing histories of both tough-grit soul-blues and artful punk rock. The fateful meeting took place in the sweltering summer of 2003 on the set of a piteously dull reality TV show in Los Angeles . Brian's McCoy Tyner real book provided the spark that quickly led to a great friendship and musical collaboration between the two. Like twin versions of Dante erupting from the innermost circle of hell to bask in the glory of heaven, the boys soon cast off the chains of wage slavery and boldly proclaimed the arrival of a new rock'n'roll band: THE NATURAL DISASTERS. To Matt and Brian, music is best experienced live. And so for the next five years they sharpened their act with regular performances in LA's best clubs: Spaceland, The Echo, Bordello, and Tangier. In 2007 the band set out to record all of their original material to date-and it is substantial. Last Night in LA, the debut album, consists of 21 songs. It was intentionally recorded without the use of multi-tracking, overdubbing, or special pedals or effects. If the band had a mission statement (they don't), it would have to be that-"substance over style," or to put it differently, "let the songs speak for themselves." All the band offers in the way of manifestos can be gleaned from a simple declaration on their MySpace page: "All our gear fits in the back of a Honda Civic." Lyrically, the album is dense, often eschewing the traditional use of repetition in the chorus to give the effect of snowballing "metaverses." Thematically, the 21 songs touch on damn-near every facet of human experience, with topics ranging from the holy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll (Tarantula Arms, Routine Hangover, and I'm in Love, respectively) to real love (Ready to Love), loss (Now That It's Over), war (Somebody's Son), and both the power and folly of faith (Skyline Drive, Ghost Dance). A recurring theme throughout is the struggle of ordinary people to find pride and inspiration in a too-often unimaginative or disempowering world. The songs offer as a salve-both lyrically and by their example-the healing power of music. The album takes it's title from one of the band's rapid-fire compositions. Yet it could also be taken on it's own, as though the lyrics were a form of reportage. And not in a simplistic, name-checking way, but in the way the songs somehow capture the color and rhythm of Los Angeles ... It's a party. You're invited.