Thursday, December 10, 2009

And We're Mod Amish

I found these guys today while just typing in random words to Google and seeing who came up with a Myspace account. Luckily though, I was rewarded with the discovery of these guys. I guess sometimes things just happen like that, and you just get lucky for no reason at all other than taking a swing and seeing what you hit.
An alternative/indie-rock band out of San Diego, California, Mod Amish create an all-new sound with their traditional four-man lineup. Composed of Shannon Jones (vocals and guitar), Mike Drake (guitars), Gerry Matthews (bass and vocals), and Jim Benuska (drums), Mod Amish burst out onto the indie/alternative scene with surreal lyrics encased in meldoic and catchy tunes.
Though these guys aren't signed yet (and I can't for the life of me figure out why that is), their album No Use for Sunshine was on UCLA's most played albums of '08, and after listening to a few of their songs I can see why. With a sound that blends Oasis with The Posies, Mod Amish craft a sound that has me swaying, almost like I've discovered an acid-alternative band. A unique combination, and one that my love grows for with every passing second I listen to them.
The first track I listen to from No Use for Sunshine which has me immediately hooked is "Involving a Hearse," a creepy name for a truly alternative song. Starting with a feedback-filled guitar riff by Drake, Jones pulls the song into the stratosphere from second 3 with his unique vocal style. Layed on top of Matthews's pumping bass notes and Benuska's frantic drumming, Jones's vocals are like nothing I've ever heard before. Pretty good for the first 25 seconds of the first song from a band I've never heard of before from San Diego. The song is short and sweet, the way it should be, and just as quickly as it started, it's over. What makes this song so playable for college radio, though, aside from Jones's unique vocals and Drake's melodic, yet garage-rock-inspired guitar, is the rhythm section. Matthews's bass notes synch up nice and tightly with Benuska's drumming, and behind the frantic pounding away there is an almost romantic feel to the song. Five out of five stars easy, and a great first track to listen to.
Track two is "September," a popular play on UCLA college radio, and after hearing Drake's starting guitar riff, it's no wonder why. The song is unique in its ability to exude the feeling of September. I can literally feel the cold air around me as I listen to it, and that's the test of a truly amazing song. Here, Benuska has opted for a minimalist druming style, but that changes dramatically as we enter the first chorus. Then the chains are off, and Benuska is almost Travis Barker-like in his rhythmic style. Beside him, Matthews applies a Krist Novaselic bass line to the verses that almost drowns in the choruses, only to resurface again during the next chorus. While Drake, Matthews, and Benuska make solid use of the Pixies loud-quiet-loud dynamic, Jones adds sparse rhythm guitar riffs to the wall of sound, and vocals that just swirl around you. I am truly so wrapped up in Jones's vocals, made stronger by the music set out by the other three, that if it was the middle of July it would still feel like September. Two thumbs up for this one. Way, way up.
And as "September" trails out "Fade" begins, and I'm glued to the speakers once again by the alternative honey dripping out of them. This one is less meditative, more rock-inspired, and starting on the drum bashes by Benuska, and the hard thumping bass lines by Matthews, Drake and Jones lay down Pixies and Posies-like guitar progression, creating an alternative paradise. Jones's vocals here are amplified by Matthews's vocals as well, and the interaction of the two voices takes on an almost Alice in Chains vocal dynamic. Again, Mod Amish make use of the Pixies' sound dynamic, and the song is only better for it. It's short, it's catchy, and the melody stays with you even after it's ended. That's the mark of a good song; if you remember it.
The last track on my set-list is "Disgrace," a slow, surreal song that grabs me from second one. Drake's guitar is on the ball here, and he sound more and more like Joe Santiago with every note he plays. Jones's vocals and rhythm guitar are steady and controlled; almost hypnotic. Matthews particularly shines on this song, as his bass lines carry the guitars to new heights, and it certainly wouldn't be the same without him. Then there is Benuska, laying down a slow, rhythmic drumbeat. Benuska proves here that the drums don't need to be hit hard or fast to be powerful. The power is in how they relate to the guitars and bass. A truly solid track, and the best track that I could have ended my set-list with. If you haven't heard of these guys yet, you will, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it was very, very soon.

Sounds Like: Pixies, The Posies, R.E.M., The Who, Sonic Youth

Key Tracks from No Use for Sunshine: "Fade," September," "Involving a Hearse," "Disgrace"

Check out Mod Amish more at:

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