Critic's Choice

The members of Blackfire, Friday, January 14, at the Bluebird Theater, are among a new breed of young Native American artists breaking from the more traditional musical styles associated with tribal culture to speak the universal language of visceral rock and roll. But that doesn't mean that these siblings from the Big Mountain region of northern Arizona's Navajo Nation eschew the cultural trappings of Native life; they've simply repackaged them into a sound that includes everything from ska to pure pissed-off punk. It's a combination that has found them equally welcome at tribal gatherings such as the Hoiitsà Festival in Arizona and New York's College Music Journal festival. Steeped in a political climate since birth (the Big Mountain region has long been at the center of a debate over tribal land ownership), Jeneda, Clayson and Klee Benally broach themes of imperialism, environmental negligence and the United States's mistreatment of Native peoples; their lyrics, though, are layered on music that's more suited to the mosh pit than the soapbox. -- Laura Bond

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