Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The Moderns on Ut Records
I'm reading that Richard Hell book and how he describes a very close group of friends playing in each others bands with early days of Television and no one at the time seemed to care about any of the bands playing CBGB's. It was a very small scene that ended up in the right place at the right time with enough record company hustlers selling it to the rest of the world. It made me think about bands from that time period in other parts of the country like Southern California where the guys from The Moderns were from. According to Ut Records this reissue has been lost since the late seventies and I really didn't know what to expect after hearing Jim Bemis' later project, Modern Warfare but it wasn't this polished, dark new wave that's for sure.
A-Side's "When she gets back" has a really clean and precise '80s sounding chorus on the guitar and Jim Bemis delivering this vocal in an affected style with a smirk. Half talking and half sliding into a melody for the title chorus. Really genius in the efficiwncy of this riff, the slick changes while the guitars pile up in tight melodic lines behind this clear vocal, absolutely perfect songwriting. Poppy and dark in the idea of this guy hoping his girl comes back and how he's hoping she'll stay. Frantically deluding himself in those tight spazzy snare fills and complex jangle stuff. A contemporary sound that's come full circle. Tight punk in a Jay Reatard, Adverts style. Too catchy and sounding nothing like 1979.
B-Side's "Escape Velocity" enters at ridiculous speed and Jim's got a big echo with more attitude, instead of pining for that relationship the band is jaggedly chopping up this chorus sound, and Jim's singing as fast as hell his vocal nailed to the front window of this mix. Way too much melody to be punk but way to fast to have any hope of being played alongside of radio pop of the time. Ridiculous solo with no room to breathe, every second of this is efficiently working to deliver catchy, memorable punk. "Run" has the brutish simplicity of the Ramones with the guitars running through a little bit of a phaser and adding an extra chord. The track is talking about getting out of this town and Jim even adopts Joey's dopey yelling style vocal that awkwardly leaps octaves and ends up snarling in your face. The rest of the band adds that harmony to the chorus part but this Jim Bemis character seems to have been a natural at this kind of thing. Looking forward to the reissues of the Modern Warfare stuff.
Pick this up from Ut Records, Buffalo, very cool heavy chipboard screened sleeve very much not like anything they would have come up with back then.