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Friday, January 9, 2015

Moods for Moderns - Loud & Clear

Band: Moods for Moderns
Album: Loud & Clear
Year: 2001
Style: Power Pop, Indie, Garage
Similar Bands: New Pornographers, Chisel, Posies, Big Star, Weezer
One Word Review: 1-D 70's Power Nuggets
Based Out Of: Detroit, MI
Label: Doghouse Records
 Loud & Clear - Cover & Track List
 Loud & Clear - Liner Photo & Back
 Loud & Clear - CD, Inner Fold Out
Loud & Clear - Liner Notes & Lyrics
Loud & Clear (2001)

  1. Lust for Luster 5:02
  2. Whatever She's Doin' 4:38
  3. Popstar 2:41
  4. Slacker Ways 4:23
  5. Two Tracks Left 2:42
  6. Only on a Saturday Night 3:28
  7. Runaround 2:57
  8. Candy Apples 2:46
  9. So Long Canada 3:41
  10. Long Distance Dedication 3:49
Album Ratings (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Nate Beale - Vox, Guitar, Percussion, Hammond, Wurlitzer (Dirty Sweet, Blondfire)
Ben Force - Bass, Vox, Percussion (King for a Day, Koufax, Bulldog)
Dave Shettler - Drums, Hammond, Vox, Percussion, Moog, Farfisa (Koufax, Sights, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Nathaniel Mayer, Andre Williams, Scott Morgan, Paul Collins, Brian Olive)
Jim Diamond - Vox, Percussion, Organ, Producer
Dirk Hemsath - Percussion (Transcend, Majority of One, Upwelling)
Emily Lazar - Mastering
Bryan Sheffield - Photography

Unknown-Ness: So I bought this for a buck just because the name is taken from Elvis Costello. That's really it. I imagine the band to have that sort of sound, with a Who influence (thanks to the cover art). But I imagine this band will really sound like the early 00's young indie garage bands like Redwalls or Rooney.  Unfortunately the liner notes and lyrics are not complete due to the water damage to the case. CD looks to be in fine shape, though.

Album Review: Not much out there about this short lived band. Many of the musicians went on to form other projects, but nothing was that notable. They excel at trying to capture that 70’s power pop ‘garage vibe that is just as fun to watch and listen to as it must be to play. It is a solid piece of nostalgia done well, but it is lacking one punchy, unidentifiable thing that would make it shine beyond the one dimension.

“Lust for Luster” begins the album with a fade up of a garage rock guitar hook and rollicking bass line. Once the song really kicks in, I can see the comparisons of power pop heros Big Star. Also a less shiny Jellyfish. Short harmonies punctuate each verse, and the chorus is a two note harmony as well. There are a bunch of sections to this song that flow into each other quite seamlessly. And the song could go on forever, but they cut it short with a fade out without any loss of intensity.
“Whatever She's Doin'” was one single from the album. And it continues the mid 7’s power pop spirit alive with chords and a Weezer like melody from verse into the chorus. It also reminds me of a favorite short lived band called the Realistics. After a couple run throughs of verse-chorus, they employ hand claps for percussion, and later a cowbell and whiny electric guitars for an instrumental whine down.
“Popstar” was the B-Side to “WSD.” Is a side to side bouncy pop/folk song. The vocals are slightly distorted with a minor megaphone/echo effect. The tempo slows down in the chorus with a harmonized section, and it picks back up. It has continual starting and stopping of the tempo.
“Slacker Ways” continues the happy, shiny power pop, with a pretty aggressive (yet fully harmonized) stomping chorus. There is also a small use of synth to bolster the melody. At about the 2 minute mark, they abandon music and just showcase the melody with an acapela  measure with handclaps in support. After the instrumental, they cut back the driving tempo for a sleepy time swaying melody…but not for long until they kick it back in. This song feels like a waking up from a coma of what the slacker alternative era was like. The guitars don’t have much distortion, the vocals are alive and harmonic and the chords are punchy and catchy.
“Two Tracks Left” was the first single they released that predates this album. After the power pop intro, the song takes more of a singer songwriter guitarist direction, where the vocals are left out there by themselves, with no competition from the instruments.  

“Only on a Saturday Night” finds an Elvis Costello style organ to play a fun power pop melody. The song does a nice job building anticipation, and has a nice wash that delivers the chorus quite enjoyably. I think the song has too much going on to figure out what to enjoy most and pay attention to…the organ, the pounding guitars, the harmonies or the main melody. It is a good song at its root, but it is just too busy.
“Runaround” begins with a country music angle with steel guitar featured overtop pub room power pop. It reminds me a little of the late 70’s early 80’s pub rock like the A’s. It is sung in a little snottier and nasally manner than the other songs. Still has come nice whoo-hoo-hoo harmonies and toward the end, it used the organ, but it feels like it is trying to change gears form the country pub song in the beginning to a new wave power pop song in the middle. It converts back to the countrified melody at the very end, however.
“Candy Apples” sounds like it is a 69’s bubblegum pop song coming in over a radio. It is recorded in with a muted, swampy, low fi sound. The effect of the production over top of the organ gives it a little bit of a psychedelic feel. It glides itself along on the one dimensional idea, and even with harmonized Ah-Ah-Ah’s, it doesn’t climb out of mediocrity.
“So Long Canada” starts with a slow melody, then transitions to a snotty stomping march. It has a side to side swagger, and could be produced to sound like a pop-punk song if they chose.
“Long Distance Dedication” is a slow-dance with a light garage rock edge. It again uses the technique of sounding like it was recorded with echoing vocals through a lo fi radio, giving a spacey large vacant room feeling. This sounds like the band’s sound check before the auditorium filled up with prom kids.  

Stand Out Track: Whatever She's Doin'

Power Pop Overdose

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