Thursday, February 24, 2005

Modernage/Book Of Lists (indie reviews)

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have promo CDs mailed to me; rather than scouring the internet for new music, it arrives in my mailbox and it doesn't sound like it was recorded underwater. This month, I received two discs -- one from Vancouver, Canada, and the other from Florida.

The Modernage press release attempts to catch your attention with everything we expect to see these days from a hot indie band -- mentions of "post-punk," "moody," and "dark." Comparisons to Interpol, The Stills, and Elefant. Live gigs with Magnet and The Walkmen, and references to NYC club nights Rothko and Tiswas.

Don't let this put you off, jaded indie fan. These guys are actually good. Sure they wear their influences on their collective sleeves, but where many of their contemporaries have the depth of a cheap flash, The Modernage build their songs around genuine hooks and uncontrived emotion. They aren't a marketing ploy. Strong vocals, the requisite one-two basslines, and precisely placed guitars are all mixed together surprisingly well for something that arrived as a CD-R.

Expect a full six song EP (titled Receiver) to be released in April. The title track, Headlights, has been on repeat at my place for some time now.

On the other end of the production spectrum, Vancouver's Book Of List's debut EP (picked up by Global Symphonic, who also released early work by The Organ) is all feedback and delay. While fuzzy production can often reflect poor mixing, in this case, it's obviously an intentional choice made by the band.

Each of the tracks on the EP has a distinct feel -- even the vocals switch up dramatically. Early Smile/Nowhere-era Ride is a good reference point, but this is a much more mature band when it comes to songwriting (much of which may be attributed to the participation of Radio Berlin's Chris Frey).

Feeling like The Jesus and Mary Chain channeled by Paul Simon, this is a really unique EP, regardless of my name-checking and comparisons. Nice to see another solid band added to the already impressive local indie scene coming together in Vancouver. Book Of Lists are one of my favorite new artists in the early months of this year.