Gabe Watson, one fourth of alt-rock group Native June, is originally from Southern Indiana. Two other members are from Europe— Britain and France, respectively. It’s no wonder, then, that their sophomore album contains a cover featuring Santa Monica pier and a bright sunset. It’s also called Ocean To Sunset. Only one member of the band, Jake DeSouza, has been around that scenery his entire life.
Native June is now rooted in the City of Angels, a town with which they’ve quickly grown accustomed. They won a battle of the bands on the very location depicted on their album cover, and they inked a deal with local Planet LA Records to release Ocean to Sunset.
Ocean To Sunset’s album cover is fitting not only because it depicts the band’s newfound home, but because it represents the upbeat, positive vibe of the album. Each of the songs is fast and fun, and a dull moment rarely occurs. Only fourth track “Summertown” shows signs of slowing, as it features a slightly subdued piano-heavy groove during the various verses. But even that pace is soon broken by an onslaught of gang vocals and loud, distorted guitars during the chorus.
Given the members’ unique backgrounds, much of Ocean To Sunset’s lyricism focuses on locations and the concept of home. Notably the Springsteen-esque “Danny,” which features opening lines “Danny, Danny where you at? You live downtown with the rats and the trash / someday we’ll find a way to live like that / we’ll move away to paradise.” The lyrics don’t necessarily consider L.A. the paradise in question, however, as the chorus includes the line “someday we’ll find a way to live so good / we’ll move away from Hollywood.” There are numerous other examples of introspective lyricism about living situations, such as the phrase “I do not know where home is anymore” on aforementioned track “Summertime.”
The album’s most radio-ready track is “Daisy,” a song that features an anthemic chorus of positive advice, including lines such as “start moving in a forward motion” and “keep your head up”— somewhat along the lines of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” You can listen to that song on Earbits Radio by clicking this link.
Although songs like “Daisy” would fit in on contemporary radio, Native June’s best quality is that they play loud alternative-rock that doesn’t sacrifice its power and heart to appeal to the current watered-down popular indie scene. Even when they break that trend they’re just as powerful, which is demonstrated through closing track “Golden Tambourine.” That song begins with, unsurprisingly, a tambourine to accompany jangling acoustic guitars as bright and shiny as the sun on the album’s cover. The band then shouts “We used to dance!” and immediately breaks into a rhythm-heavy groove that inspires listeners to do what the band claims they used to do (it’s the album’s most danceable track, in case that wasn’t clear). The song completely switches focus around the 2:40min mark, at first introducing a folksy, acoustic guitar part and then speeding that up and heavily distorting it.
“Golden Tambourine” is the album’s best display of the group’s versatility. Perhaps the fact that the members hail from various locations across the globe contributes to the diverse sound. If that’s the case, fans should be happy that they’ve all settled down in Los Angeles to create music.
Ocean To Sunset’s only real downside is that it’s short, consisting of only six songs. However, it’s also available for free download through the group’s bandcamp page (http://nativejune.bandcamp.com/). It’s worth a listen.