The Falling Birds are an up-and-coming rock band from Brooklyn, with roots in rural upstate New York. There, frontman Stephen Artemis witnessed the demise of the post-industrial Northeastern United States, or now what is colloquially called the “Rust Belt.” His childhood was influenced by the decline of industrialized America, and his music reflects that with its grunge/country combination. Themes of loss, finding oneself and making it through hardships are all prevalent on Native America.
The EP opens with “Darling,” a hard rock, energy-fueled track which sounds exactly like it came from the place it was recorded, which is inside a Brooklyn basement. “If Time Allows” takes a step in a different direction, accented by acoustic guitars and harmonicas playing softly, as opposed to the wailing riffs of the previous song. It showcases Artemis’ breathy, coarse voice through the use of deeply poetic lyrics. However, toward the end, it becomes almost definitively country, with a bouncy beat and higher tempo. “A New York Love Song” closes the record even further style-wise from the opener, as it starts with a harmonica riff similar to that in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” The song is a heartbreaking tale of young love and how it did not work out quite the way it was supposed to.
Native America is a brilliant debut from The Falling Birds, and really shows how versatile they are. Although the release is not consistent in its genre, it gradually progresses from raw rock to forlorn Americana. Like an EP-long history lesson on the Rust Belt, The Falling Birds show how to create music that starts coldly industrial, but transforms into something soft and nostalgic.