Friday, October 3, 2008


The Modern Tribe

Baltimore's Celebration create a sound that is heavy on dramatic flourishes, bold colors and swollen hearts for new album "The Modern Tribe." Every song on this Dave Sitek-produced (TV On The Radio) album is an overload of primary-color holy psychedelic soul. Glorious explosions of technicolor church organ (thrillingly the guitar is pushed to the rear pews), polyrhythmic, surging waves of forward-marching drumming, and Katrina Ford's iron-lunged vocals- more in the PJ Harvey school of darkblues power- form the building blocks of this album.

"Pressure" echoes some of the vibe on TVOTR's "Return to Cookie Mountain" with its chugging groove, off-kilter vocals and an able assist from TVOTR vocalist Kyp Malone (other members of that ensemble make appearances elsewhere, as do other worthies like Nick Zinner), but other than that any thoughts of Sitek's hand being too heavy are way off base - this trio have their own confident, joyous sound. Check out how "Heartbreak" reaches to gospel-esque heights of transcendence, assisted by JB-esque horns and funky tightness, call-and-response vocals and buzzing "Whiter Shade of Pale" organs. "Pony" brings in elements of disco and Quintron's twisted revival show for a white-hot, cabaret gasp and moan.

"Hands off My Gold" is gonzo, hilarious lounge insanity with all sorts of Esquivel-meets-Spike Jonesisms - dig that crazy tin can percussion, hear those horns chase around the vagabonds who've made off with the vocalist's gold - like some speedfreak tiki lounge bartender is mixing drinks and grinding his teeth in a fast-forward blur. "In This Land" has a loping hazy groove like the Stone Roses and John Barry's orchestra collaborating on an all-night rave. All the extra flourishes and players really flesh out their sound sumptuously. the glockenspiel traces the melody line, the horns sound like an old soul sample, the drums are perfect for dancing, the Stax-ish organs, the freakout geeeeetar solo - this is the big showstopping number no doubt. "Our Hearts Don't Change" is an intense freakout prayer with the organs and drums just burning burning burning and an incantation of "I'll be right there/ I'll stand by you."

Heavy, raw, and ecstatic. "The Modern Tribe" is one of those strange, rare things which can exude light and hope and and exultation without fear of being called foolish or naive. More brighter now!

- Matthew Moyer

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