Until recently, I only had two genres of music to abhor: Country and Gangsta Rap. Now I can add a third – Emo. And for the purists who want to divide it down into Emotional Hardcore or Screamo or Post-Punk-Whatever-Core, save your breath. I’ll be more specific:
Tight, punchy metal or rock music
Throwaway, sappy, broken-hearted lyrics.
Whiny singing, possibly punctuated by guttural screaming.
Dashboard Confessional. Fall Out Boy. My Chemical Romance. The kind of music that makes me wish California would break off and slide into the ocean, taking all these bands with it.
Nothing against the music, mind you. Often the music is top-notch. It’s the singing that wrecks it for me. I can understand the xenophobic, directionless anger of Hardcore music, but its tough to sympathize with a whiny singer whom you would kick in the balls if he had any. And screaming gutteral nonsense doesn’t make you sound tough after you just whined and cried a bunch of sappy lyrics that sound like they were inspired by a Danielle Steele novel.
There are real bands out there that are able to mood swing from angry to melancholic and it sounds authentic. Listen to NIN’s brutal ‘Big Man With A Gun’, then listen to the intimate ‘Hurt’, and then try to call Trent Reznor a pussy. You can’t. Then listen to Linkin Park and try to imagine the lead singer getting into a fist-fight. You can’t. The singer’s lyrics, subject matter, and delivery are so sensitive that anything more brash than flipping him off on the Interstate would make him burst into tears.
Most of these songs are based around two characters, and the relationship gone wrong between them, told from a first-person perspective. They all contain the word ‘trust’ (or more likely ‘trusted’) and they are drowned in first and second person pronouns: I, Me, My, and You. Some Examples:
‘I know you felt like I was fading away’
‘Youre everything I wanted’
‘Ive left nothing for myself’
‘You said you wanted me’
‘I love you’
‘I hate you’
My theory is that lyrics like this are easy to write. An afterthought, really. Even easier now, since bands have moved beyond the need to rhyme. Kiss the vocal hook goodbye. I kinda wish these bands would kiss their lead whiners goodbye and write instrumentals instead.
With any luck, Emo is a fad that we’ll look back on and laugh, “Yeah, people used to listen to that.” You can call me old if you like, but I’d rather be called old than listen to the 2000’s version of Trixter.
If Punk had worn a condom when it screwed Death back in the 70’s, the bastard child known as Goth wouldn’t have been born when it was, and future generations of music appreciators would have traced the roots of Gothic Rock Music back to Minneapolis, and the band Revolver Modele, who would have appeared ‘a priori’, without previous influence. This fact is overlooked by many other reviewers who can’t seem to listen to Revolver Modele without imposing influences, and drawing comparisons to other bands because they are too
All of the above
to write an original review. (‘INXS? Um, they’re like Cheap Trick, only, um, newer.’ ‘Jethro Tull? Um, they’re like Pink Floyd, only more so.’)
It was a dark and stormy night when local fashion maven, Anna Lee suggested Revolver Modele to me, and I stumbled down to The Kitty Kat Club for a look-see. I was not prepared for the lead singer (Ehsan) to become possessed by demons and begin thrashing around on the stage. The only hint that he still held onto a small piece of his humanity was the fact that he was able to continue singing, and keep the microphone near enough to his mouth so we could all hear it.
When he rolled off the stage and dropped, crashing to the dance floor in an indeterminate spasming heap, no one rushed forward to help. The band played on; Mikal (guitar) climbed up onto things and jumped off them, all without missing a note, his actions as dangerous as his guitar work. Jesse (drums) belted out clockwork timing, oblivious to the impending threat of being landed upon, and Natasha (bass) simply watched with all the attitude of your cat watching you have sex.
It was then that I realized, even though Ehsan’s body had now become a marionette for other-worldly forces to control, even though a portal to Lovecraft’s ‘Ancient Ones’ had certainly been opened, even though sane audience members should flee in terror, we could not leave. Because through the portal came music.
The music was awesome.
Thankfully, Revolver Modele were able to capture that music on their latest release, ‘Discotheque Crypt’. Amazingly deep sound for such a small group (Guitar, bass, drum, vox) and Ehsan has an amazingly deep voice for such a slim body. Mikal does a fantastic job of switching between rhythm and lead guitar, and from flat-out-distortion to crystalline ethereal echoes to undead silence. Natasha (AKA: The Nun) bottoms-out the songs with clean, prominent and punctual basswork, and a beautiful, catlike stare. (I am fairly certain that she does not ever blink. Or smile.) Jesse holds the songs together with all the tight timing of a Swiss Swatch, and calls attention to his drumming by Not calling attention to his drumming.
The lyrics actually make for good reading and are as meaningful as you make them; a kind of Rorschach Lyrics Test, to see what you read into them. And you will probably have to read the lyrics to distinguish some of them; the vocals on Discotheque Crypt are intentionally thick, and syrupy as if they were drowned in old blood. The feeling roller-coasters between deeply emotional and deeply emotionless, often within the same song.
You might hear the single Les Diaboliques if you listen to ‘cool’ radio stations, and you certainly should request Revolver Modele at [email protected] (770 Radio K) and [email protected] (89.3 Current) For those of you who decided that anything New is also Bad, Revolver Modele might be just the cure that restores your faith in local music.
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite song off the album, as I tend to listen to it in it’s entirety like a concept album, but I will admit that ‘Les Diaboliques’ and ‘Body Without Organs’ tend to make me drive way too fast, and it is almost impossible to sit still during ‘Deca-Dance’ without tapping some part of your body against something else.
So if you fire up Revolver Modele at home on some dark and stormy night, and Cthulhu suddenly possesses your cat, which falls to the floor, spasming, gargling and pawing at the air uncontrollably, just laugh and tell it ‘thats what you get for staring at me while I’m having sex.’
The Revolver Modele CD Release party was last Saturday night at the Turf Club. If you missed it, then you missed it. Openings bands were Solid Gold and The Deaths.
My father has a saying – “If a woman wears a strong perfume, she’s probably trying to cover something up.” I could make an analogy to bands that turn the volume up too much. The rules of band etiquette state that the opening bands should NEVER be louder than the main act, unless you are opening for Enya.
Solid Gold is a three piece (guitar, guitar, and bass) who play along to a drum loop (similar to the Melodious Owls) and pull off a decent sound of drinking/dancing music that would be well-received at your wedding reception; a mix of boy-rock and pseudo-disco.
The band members were quite shy, and often did not face the audience. It is difficult to “not face the audience” from a thrust stage, especially when there is no drummer to stare at. (Fashion tip: If you are going to have your backside to the audience, and you are going to sag, make sure to wear clean and possibly even interesting underwear, because really, that’s all you’re giving us to look at.)
The songs were good, and the members of Solid Gold are all quite talented, but the songs got boring/repetitive after a bit, they really need to have the rhythm pattern broken up. There is a reason for the bridge in a song.
With less volume, more variety, and a human drummer, Solid Gold would do well.
More than once I have explained The Deaths music as “The Moody Blues as a Garage Band”. These guys were more relaxed than Solid Gold, but seemed less focused, and their performance was not as tight as their the 2005 Voltage: Fashion Amplified show. I would expect more gloomy music from a band called The Deaths. As it is, their music is casual, and non-offensive. They could use a bit of energy on stage, or dancers or props…
Flat out professional showmanship is the phrase I would use. These four are great, and they don’t need much room to get their “stage antics” on. I love the contrast of the absolutely insane lead singer (Ehsan) and guitarist (Mikal) and the completely stoic drummer (Jesse) and bassist (Natasha, AKA: The Nun) While Revolver Modele lyrics are always drowned in syrup, it was truly impossible to make out a single word Ehsan said throughout the show, even when covering New Order’s “Blue Monday”. The mix could have used a touch of EQ to bring out the vocals. These guys really should be national acts. Their performance was awesome, but too short.
You might have heard me rave about Revolver Modele before, you can check out some sounds on their website, but better yet, show up to see them live: 1 Oct 2005 at the Turf Club, St Paul MN. They put on a Fantastic live show. See below for show info.
Also check out the video for ‘Diabolique’ in which Xtina and Myself cameo, and possibly the only video you will see of me wearing white. (True story)
The official press release:
The long awaited debut full length from Revolver Modele has arrived. All new recordings that are more energetic/danceable than previous tracks if you can imagine that. Produced/Recorded and Mixed by Brad Kern primarily at Third Ear.
Join us Oct 10th at Oak Street Cinema in Mpls 5pm for the screening of Spectrum MN Sountracks Vol. 3 DVD – Sound Unseen Music Film Festival www.soundunseen.com Revolver Modele’s video “Les Diaboliques” is on the DVD.
The Jagged Spiral song “Let It Out” has been moved from this blog to the band website, somewhere on www.jaggedspiral.com or you can probably still hear it on the Jagged Spiral MySpace page: www.myspace.com/jaggedspiral
Colin – Rhythm and Lead Guitars
Yusef – Lead Guitar
Josh – Drums
Zero – Bass, Yelling, Grunting, and Whispering
[Update: Stardate Aug 2015 – We gave up the Myspace, but you can hear/download the complete album for FREE on bandcamp or soundcloud.]
Checked out Transmission last night at the Hexagon Bar. A decent place, although it wasn’t shaped like a Hexagon. Ran into local fashion “yes”, Miss Anna Lee. Revolver Modele opened, and as always a great show. The free parking and free cover for live music is a big plus. You won’t find awesome free music like this in LA or NY!
BTW: The host, DJ Jake Rudh spins audio coolness.
The headliner was Mark Mallman, who plays keyboards, is completely insane, and completely all-out-rock-and-roll showman. He actually stood on his own organ! Yikes! Imagine Billy Joel, Elton John, Meatloaf, and Ted Nugent combined. Just try. That’s right, you can’t imagine it, you have to see it. Check it out, he is in the middle of a seven straight day series of concerts at the Hexagon…
Both these songs get rammed down the throat of terrestrial radio daily, so Nickelback has managed to turn one successfully mediocre song into two.
No doubt their label has more to do with this than the band itself, and I bet if you were under a multi-million dollar contract you would do exactly what Nickelback did – “Write another hit, just like the last one, only change the lyrics a bit.” So I guess this song makes fun of the music industry more than Nickelback.
The song by Cold you played earlier today (has lyrics “…I didn’t mean to be so cold…”) was just awful. Anybody can mix together bass+drums+powerchorddistortionguitars, but when the lyrics are pussy+whiny+”I feel”+”I want”+”I need” it really puts a damper on the song. It turns an otherwise decent band into a rocked-up version of Dashboard Confessional; possibly the worst lyric writing of all time.
I believe the style of music (in it’s unplugged, coffee-shop form) is called Emo for emotional, you probably know more about it than I do. There are bands that pull off Emo/Rock well (Outside by Staind, for example) and those who don’t, and they are easy to pick out by counting the number of times they say “I” in the first ten seconds.
Now that I have pointed it out to you, it will drive you nuts…