Agony Shorthand

Friday, April 09, 2004

Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t been this gung-ho excited about a loud, guitar-drenched, garage-influenced rock and roll band since the CHEATER SLICKS. These MODEY LEMON fellas, of which there appear to be only two & whose age is said to be of relatively recent vintage (e.g. very early twenties), have already mastered the dark art of feedback-laden, high-energy ramalama, extending a template thrown down by the MC5 into the 21st century. These boys are hard, they are heavy, and yet I’d peg them much, much closer to In The Red-style garage punk than Man’s Ruin-style sludge/metal. If you liked Joe Carducci’s take on true rock and roll in “Rock and the Pop Narcotic”, which defined the touchstones of rock as the MC5, Stooges, Sabbath and Black Flag, you will very likely enjoy Modey Lemon. I keep coming back to 1989-1992 CLAW HAMMER, who were about the best band in the world during that brief era, and had a similar attack rooted in blues, punk, 70s proto-metal and cranked-up teenage lust. The Lemon are probably wowing their crowds just as much as the Hammer wowed theirs for a couple years. (note: I wrote this Modey Lemon review that you are now reading last weekend, and refrained from posting it while I “tidied” it up. In the interim one “Bagarozzi” [i.e. Chris Bagazrozzi, late of Claw Hammer themselves] added a comment to the John Coltrane post below. Lest you think that I am gushing about the Hammer in order to curry favor with the man, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Handsome Chris, a player and mack of the highest order, needs no help from me).

“Thunder + Lightning” is their second full-length record (I haven’t heard the first yet), coming after an EP on Birdman and a double 45 on In The Red. It’s got just one full-bore mother after another, all chugging and careening like a car off the rails & twice as loud. Keeping with the MC5 thing, “The Gemini Twins” is their equivalent of the 5’s take on “Starship” and follows a similar structure – maybe the best track on here. There’s frequent, jarring bursts of Moog and CDX keyboards, whatever those are, in the mix, which adds an even more chaotic sheen to the proceedings. If I’m allowed one complaint it’s that no one song busts out of the chaos as being a truly exceptional calling card: they’re all real great, and none of them are classics (though “Gemini Twins” is close). So there it is. It all adds up to one conclusion: I need to see this band play live, maybe even follow them up & down the west coast the way I used to latch onto tours back “when I was their age” (*sigh*).