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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mod Caesars - Summer Of Love

Name: Mod Caesars
Album: Summer of Love
Year: 1985
Style: College Radio, Indie, Jangle-Pop
Similar Bands: Game Theory, Fabulous Fondas, Reagan Youth (TX), Dead Milkmen, Violent Femmes, Buddy Holly, Clash (light)
"One Word" Review: Buddy-Holly's-Goofy-Teen-Brother's-Punk-Band 
Based Out Of: Pearland TX
Label: Mod Music Records
 Summer of Love - Album & Record
Summer Of Love - Back & Record

Summer Of Love (1985)
  1. Hitman 2:03
  2. Cindy 2:30
  3. Jesus Bought A Brand New Car 2:21
  4. Back to the Basics 1:54/
  5. Love is the Key 2:12
  6. Dear Abby 2:38
  7. Take A Ride With Me 3:32
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands:
Howard Agnew - Vox, Keys, Trombone
David Ritter - Guitar, Vox
Tom Scloneaux - Bass, Vox
Mike Scranton - Drums, Vox
Gus Buzbee - Engineer
Jeff Welborn - Design
Trent Henley - Photography

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of these guys. This was one of the earlier albums I bought for this endeavour, and remember liking the pieced together artwork on the front, and the images on the back reminded me of the local band Fabulous Fondas. It just looks like they tried so hard that it turned out looking very amateurish and DIY indie. Plus their autographs are all on the back, so that was a plus right? This album was most likely bought at a show, or a friend of the band’s. The biggest selling point is the band picture in the bottom right corner: a very goofy mix of guys.

Album review:  Apparently, they came from the remains of a band called Reagan Youth- not the popular punk band from NYC, but another band with the same name in Texas. Their “big song” was Dear Abby, as they feature a video for it on their FB page.

“Hitman” starts of with a short hook of jangley guitars. The vocals are a jerky, nasally Buddy Holly sound. Also sounds like a less nasally Joe Jack Talcum from Dead Milkmen (and a little deeper), or like the singer from Pansy Division. But this is a nice short song that feels like the early Violent Femmes. It also features an odd upturn use of the singer’s voice when the title is sung, like he’s just hitting puberty.
“Cindy” is right up the line for a Buddy Holly song love song to a girl. The verbage is similar to the oldies; it speaks of innocent High School dreams and desires of going steady and popular jock competition. The twist is that the song changes direction with the same sentiment to a neighbor girl named Sherry. The song is guitar chords, strum-driven, and even the drums are tough to pick out in the background, as the guitar sounds percussive enough
“Jesus Bought A Brand New Car” begins with a church-like “Joy To The World” organ solo, which quickly breaks down into a simple yet nervous, somewhat surf-punk song (think “Tequilla”). It is steadily driving song, with a harmonic chorus of fa-la-la’s in the background. This one is a toe-tapping bouncy song. It ends with a couple extra organ notes
“Back to the Basics” is a spoken-sung song over the punk melody, and when it gets to the chorus, it reminds me of a very poppy Gang-Of-Four/less aggressive Clash chorus. The bass line is simple and really gives the song a dark, art-indie vibe.

“Love is the Key” is chanted to introduce the song. Yet another simple poppy, bouncy bass line follows, and the song feels a little like what I’d imagine Weird-Al’s honest take on punk would sound like. It has a nice flow to it, a little surfy too.
“Dear Abby” has a lot more energy at the get go, and right away, the phrase “Dear Abby: opunctuates each line of the verse with a harmony in the background. The lyrics are about as goofy as the letters that are sent in and published. The chorus asks Dear Abby to read and respond to the struggling singer’s problems that he sends in. Again, this feels like Weird Al’s concept song, similar to his Madonna cover of “Morning Star.” The singer and band have a great grasp on simple hooks and how to execute the simple chords and catchy melodies.
“Take A Ride With Me” is mostly driven by the power guitar chords. The bass is buried underneath inthis song more than usual. Then the chorus hits, somewhat suddenly, and it is all harmony and oldies song structure. In the instrumental, the guitar breaks it down, all the while being supported by the same “come on pretty baby, take a ride with me” backing melody. Really, it does not sound that much different from the rest of the songs, in fact I feel like you could insert many of the same lyrics over many of the songs. But in this song, as the last 45 seconds or so kick in, they lift up the harmonic chorus to a higher level, and really catch any wavering attention the listener might have had, and drive the hook home.

Stand Out Track: Back to the Basics

Links:
Houston TX

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like something I would like....back to the used vinyl bins this weekend!

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  2. They were really good. (are? I saw there was a reunion show somewhat recently. A little "Weird Al" with the vocals at times, but really solid arrangements and just good songs. I just uploaded and linked my favorite track from the album, so check em' out if you can!

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