What you’ll notice first, after an awesome four-bar handclap intro, is that the North Atlantic sounds like every other band playing loud, purposefully dissonant noise-rock. Never is it a creative decision — much less a marketable one — to sound too similar to anyone else. But right away listening to thrashing drums and Jason Hendrix’s guitar/vocals on their debut, Wires in the Walls, the comparisons flood in: Thursday, At the Drive-In, Dismemberment Plan, These Arms Are Snakes. You get the point: they don’t sound like these bands; they sound as if they want to be these bands.
There are moments of clarity — the slow, dark bounce of “Scientist Girl,” the simple sonic wash and steady NYC pulse of “Bottom of This Town.” But the messy, spastic San Diego punk of “Swallows Air” and “Street Sweepers” (a trait I’ve witnessed to be inversely proportionate to the city’s climate/attitude) and a general lack of subtlety — yes, heavy rock, even punk, can be nuanced — makes Wires in the Walls a schizophrenic trip, more of a chore than a pleasure.