released August 17th, 2010

from the album - This Land

from all music

Santa Monica-based indie rock outfit Chief formed in the late 2000s around the talents of Evan Koga, Mike Moonves, and brothers Danny and Michael Fujikawa. The band’s predilection for sunny, Beach Boys/Tom Petty-inspired Pacific Ocean roots rock may suggest a West Coast inception, but the California natives’ transition from friends to band took place out east at New York University. The group’s decade-spanning blend of the Band, the Fleet Foxes, Neil Young and Band of Horses eventually found them a home on Domino Records, and upon moving back to California, Chief began putting together their debut. The resulting Modern Rituals arrived on August 17, 2010.

album review

Santa Monica-based indie rock outfit Chief's low-key debut oozes California sunset melancholy. The quartet’s languid, guitar-driven highway pop is built upon a foundation of blue-collar radio favorites like Neil Young and the Band, as well as the early-'90s alt-rock of Toad the Wet Sprocket and Red House Painters, and the resulting Modern Rituals feels a little stuck in the middle. Earnest, melodic, and slow to unfold, there’s not a bad song on here, but surprises are few and far between. Midtempo rockers like “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Breaking Walls” breeze by on the strength of tight, reverb-heavy production, thanks in part to Grammy Award-winning producer Emery Dobyns and vocalist Danny Fujikawa's expressive pipes, but it’s a pace that rarely deviates. That said, there are some gems here, including the dark Fleet Foxes-meets-Tom Petty mid-album dirge “Stealing,” the spacious, harmony-laden “This Land,” and the warm, weary, “Wild Mountain Thyme”-inspired “Irish Song,” all suggesting that Chief can hold their own amidst the current crop of windswept West Coast indie rockers like Band of Horses, Wild Light, and Port O'Brien.

Track Listing

1 The Minute I Saw It Chief 3:46
2 Nothing's Wrong Chief 4:40
3 Wait for You Chief 3:42
4 This Land Chief 4:02
5 Breaking Walls Chief 4:33
6 In the Valley Chief 4:23
7 Stealing Chief 3:34
8 You Tell Me Chief 3:28
9 Summer's Day Chief 4:00
10 Irish Song Chief 3:35
11 Night & Day Chief 3:46