Wednesday, 23 January 2019

***MODERN RIFLES exclusive premiere***

BandMODERN RIFLES
GenresPunk / Rock / Post-Hardcore / Emo Rock / Alternative / Pop-punk
Related artistsJumbo, Snakes And Crowes, Shades McCool and Teddy Duchamp's Army.
CountrySan Diego, California U.S.A.
Years Active2006-2009, 2011-2014
Song: "Broken Wings Make Broken Things"
Album: "LP + B-Sides"
Year: 2019
For fans ofJimmy Eat World, No KnifeBlue Youth, Waxwing, Recover, Manchester Orchestra, Hot Water Music, Life In Vacuum, Hot Snakes, Carved Up, Drive Like Jehu, Unwound, Russian Circles and Riddle Of Steel aka PROPER SCREAMO.
Label(s): Self Released / Zegema Beach Records
This post's artist is from the January 2019 Mix. This is track #?.
You can download: the January 2019 Mix#1 right here or get the new February 2019 Mix#2 here.

I can't even describe how much I love MODERN RIFLES, but I'll try...again. In the first month of this blog's existence I went a bit overboard and did 31 band posts in 31 days. Covered were most of my absolute favourites such as Neil Perry, Daitro, La Quiete as well as a very obscure band in my third post that didn't really fit the mold of screamo that I generally do. In that post (linked here) I recounted my origin story for the band but I'm gonna go through that again here.

I taught in South Korea for two and a half years and bought a large number of physical releases whilst there, knowing that I was eventually coming home and having much of it shipped to my parents home in Canada until I came back. There was a fair amount of gold waiting for me, but one of the best releases waiting for me was also one that rendered my brain a sloppy, confused question mark. I had no idea where I heard it (assuming I even did) or read the review. It was titled 'I Was Young, It Was Dark' by MODERN RIFLES. I was like...okay, some new screamo that I don't remember, sweet. Then I popped it in and by the second track I was confused. This wasn't screamo. This wasn't hardcore. This wasn't metalcore. This was...something different. It didn't sound bad so I didn't turn it off. By about song five I stopped whatever it was I was doing and sat down with the cd and booklet, as the band had officially got my attention. Fast forward 10 years later and I'm still as giddy as a kid in a toy store when listening to it. It's fucking perfect. It's like 11 beautiful sassy rock, poppy emo, alternative and post-hardcore tunes all wrapped into one ridiculously tasty ear burrito. Think Jimmy Eat World all hopped up on caffeine whilst writing songs in math class and you're pretty much there.

And then, in the fall of 2018, Daryl Thompson, bassist for the band during their brief existence in the late 2000s, emailed me after reading my very basic/sparse review and shared with me three unreleased songs from the band's only (surfaced) recording session for the 'I Was Young, It Was Dark' LP. I was so happy that I pretty much diarrhea'd in my pants and up my back. Wait, that was my baby earlier today. I was so happy that I asked Daryl if I could release the three songs in conjunction with the LP on cassette. He asked his former bandmates and responded with a yes. And here we are.

I made 50 copies of these tapes, titled 'LP + B-Sides', with new art from Greg Rozum. 25 are on old computer with two-sided/colored j-cards while the other 25 tapes are green with stone cardstock #/50. There are four rare variants with sparkle champagne pearl covers. The 'I Was Young, It Was Dark ' LP is first, followed by the unreleased three b-side tracks. You can stream, donate and download the release on the Zegema Beach Records bandcamp as well as pick up a copy of the tapes on any variant via the Canadian store (linked here) or the U.S.A. store (linked here).

Now, it's about fucking time I did a good review for this phenomenal and much underappreciated band. I can't really put it into words, but this record gives me all the feels. I'm a huge sucker for big, heavy, violent and screamy stuff, but well-constructed rock songs with killer vocals, razor-sharp hooks and enough razzle-dazzle in the technical department can have me salivating like the jowls of a very hungry and excited canine. Do not expect this from the opener, as "Introplane" is a slow-yet-playful instrumental jam that hits a sweet, spacey spot after the 30-second mark and dips heavily into post-rock/post-hardcore during its conclusion. It's a great intro to the record as well as a fantastic song, but I always worry about those short on time who are waiting for some vocals or the band to go all out, and ultimately abandon listening to the release. That would be a damn shame, for the real MODERN RIFLES are shot out from the onset of track two's "Terroplane", an absolute gem of a jam. The playful dualing guitars set the stage for the full band crashing in at the 20-second mark. The powerful waves quickly recede and the whirling guitars start, propped up perfectly by pounding bass and drums during the first verse and fantastic singing. The vocals are sung at the breaking point, where they almost dissipate into a scream but instead take on a yelled, sassy sound. When the chorus hits the vocals churn out smooth as butter, taking the listener on a prodigious ride during a chorus that shares more with post-hardcore than rock music. Listen to this and try not to sing, "Are you alriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight? Feeeeeeeeels like nothing. Feels like somethiiiiiiiing!" afterwards, it's pretty much impossible.

At this point you've got likely got a feel for the band's sound, and they really flesh things out more in the next few tracks. First is track three's "Lie To Me, Ian. Lie To Me", a wonderfully awkward, spastic and bassy tune that is darker and harder than most of the songs, but still flaunts those melodic hooks, with the most obvious being the line, "take a long look at yourself now." I'd expect fans of Blue Youth to dig this. The absurdly titled "Feck Me If I'm Wrong, But Is That A Ham Sangie In Your Hands?" is a fucking banger, bringing out the Jimmy Eat World influence but giving it more of an edge. Those lead guitars during the verses bleed into the start/stop parts beautifully, and the gang vocals keep it interesting at the end. And then...holy shit, and then comes "United Lead", which is tied for my favourite song by the band. This song is a different beast but still very MODERN RIFLES. It opens with blown-out drums and then reverts to a restrained groove, led by a slow, infectious guitar progression and those faint-worthy croons that gathers momentum for the next two minutes. This momentum offers a false climax, but like a massive wave seemingly receding, the song is really just back-building, becoming increasingly stronger and then quickly striking. The attack comes at 3:21, right after the band lets a lone guitar scout the area before deploying the troops. The vocals soar at this point, putting Jimmy Eat World to fucking shame and reminding everyone that 'Bleed American' has got nothing on this. Woah, my palms are all sweaty.

We get back to ridiculous song titles with "Man The Ramparts! Bananalyze The Trade Winds!". There's a bit of tribal chanting going on after the intro which builds to your typical/amazing MODERN RIFLES verse. Then there's a super-chill section with whispered/sung vocals that lead into a very danceable midsection, which dips back into the gang vocals and finally that sweet, sweet verse...or was that a chorus? Feck me, I dunno. (see what I did there?) The opening track for the cassette b-side is "Illegal Dracula!!!", which I just found out was the first song written by the band. In retrospect it makes sense because it's very good but doesn't have the deep hooks of their other material. That being said, it's still very MODERN RIFLES as it's poppy while simultaneously being obtuse, kind of like Life In Vacuum both in construction and sound. "Kip Winger" is another keeper, and a song that is a road trip anthem if I've ever heard one. Layering numerous vocalists with slightly different patterns works out swimmingly, and gives the track an indie rock feel during the tail-end of the verses. This track has a buried diamond, as at the two-minute mark we are met with a swing so fantastic and immersive that I want to just get up and run around the room. Dueling solos battle it out while vocalist Dan belts out audio sugar and my good god it's so fucking sweet. And we're not done, cuz at 2:43 the track delves full on into post-hardcore madness with a prodigious instrumental passage that Russian Circles and Pelican would most certainly give a nod of approval.

"Say a Prayer to St. Happenin'" is the quintessential MODERN RIFLES song, and is my other favourite by the band. A very mature and swelling first minute explodes with a massive and jarring chorus that houses more phenomenal singing before they pull back slightly and run through another verse and interlude before coming back to that slappin' chorus. Honestly this has a 'Bleed American' feel to it again but takes that sound and refines it, shedding all the waste and fat that makes me shrug off Jimmy Eat World and shove helpings of MODERN RIFLES down like it was nuthin'. This banger precedes "Manbird", a devilishly good stop/start track unrelenting grooves and excellent riff accentuation. The solo from the two-minute mark is a nice touch which leads back to more smokin' bass and Hot Snakes love. The closing track for the original release of 'I Was Young, It Was Dark' was the relatively lengthy, instrumental jam "Chuck Woolery Is Leviathan". It's a cool, post-rock/post-hardcore tune that reminds me of the condensed instru-metal tracks by Carved Up.

The three previously unreleased tracks that are tacked onto the end of the Zegema Beach cassette release are all excellent songs, and it is a shame they never ended up on the LP. That being said, waiting a decade to hear three great "new" songs is an incredible experience in its own right. First up is "Enter the Craptagon", a somber song that sways in the wind until the chorus when the overhead storm sends down lightning in the form of an electric riff and wonderfully serenaded vocals. "Hot Stone Meat Party" is the opposite, creating an evil and jarring concoction that is also playful and catchy. The guitars whip around dangerously while call-and-response chants pop up now and again as the song bounces around, reaching a honed and powerful midsection complete with yellin'n'screamin' in addition to a lightning quick conclusion with excellent drumming. "Broken Wings Make Broken Things" is likely the final song by MODERN RIFLES that we'll ever hear, and it doesn't disappoint. Sounding akin to "Say a Prayer to St. Happenin'", the song creates a dense concoction of driving post-hardcore and irresistible alternative rock. And those vocals those vocals those vocals...if I had a voice like that I don't think I'd be screaming in a band nearly as much.

So that's how I feel about MODERN RIFLES and all of their songs - the short version 😉

Please jam the full album on the ZBR bandcamp (linked below) and pick up a tape if you like what you hear. Also, we'll have an interview with bassist Daryl posted here next week, so be sure to check back!


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DISCOGRAPHY

2008 - I Was Young, It Was Dark cdLP (stream/buy here.)

2019 - LP + B-Sides cassetteLP (stream/donate/download here) [buy in U.S.A / buy in Canada+Internationally]

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(2008) MODERN RIFLES - "Say a Prayer to St. Happenin'" (from 'I Was Young, It Was Dark')

(2008) MODERN RIFLES - "United Lead" (from 'I Was Young, It Was Dark')

(2008) MODERN RIFLES - "Terroplane" (from 'I Was Young, It Was Dark')

(2009) MODERN RIFLES - "Broken Wings Make Broken Things" live video

(2019) MODERN RIFLES - "Enter the Craptagon" (from 'LP + B-Sides')

(2019) MODERN RIFLES - "Hot Stone Meat Party" (from 'LP + B-Sides')

(2019) MODERN RIFLES - "Broken Wings Make Broken Things" (from 'LP + B-Sides')

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MODERN RIFLES additional links

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