If you’ve ever seen The Naturalists live, you might know what I mean when I say their live set feels like a party scene straight out of a cult classic 90’s movie. They’re gritty, loud as heck, there’s a lot of fearless guitar riffs and hair being flipped back and forth. This three piece, grunge-soaked Buffalo band is the perfect lovechild of that golden era of 90’s alt-rock and modern, fuzzy garage rock.
Lead singer and guitarist Craig Perno has this unique Raine Maida quality to his voice that is equally piercing as it is haunting. He has a solid grasp of when to kick it into high gear and when to hold back for a mysterious, brooding effect. The rest of the band, consisting of Zach Russell on bass and Perno’s twin brother Travis on drums, exudes the same confidence and dark allure when performing. The camaraderie between these three dudes on and off stage is tangible in their sound, their live performance and their progress as a band.
Their recent six song release off Dadstache Records, Home Honey, I’m Hi, is a polished, well produced representation of that progress. When I say polished, I don’t mean it has an overly sterile “studio” sound to it. I just mean that from all angles, it’s difficult to find any gaping holes where, sonically, it isn’t balanced or doesn’t exhibit really impressive musicianship. From the first few licks on “Potions,” you are very aware as a listener that these guys know exactly how they want their instruments to sound and how it’ll all fit together.
My favorite tune, “Fortune, Always Turning,” is a happy marriage between their signature grunge sound and slacker rock. There’s a slow rolling, Ovlov-esque drone to it, but the track stays true to the harder edge they’ve come to be known for. The entire album is dark, heavy and precisely what you’d want to hear when you’re caught in a riotous mood, or if you want to re-imagine yourself as the grunge punk hero of the artificial 90’s cult classic I mentioned earlier.
When it comes to bands about to break out of the local bubble, these guys are high up on my list. With a sound as distinct and large as theirs, it’s hard to not picture them playing shows that are just as large in the near future. If you haven’t listened to The Naturalists yet, I highly recommend hopping on this train.