Thursday, October 25, 2007

Little Blurbs:
Celebration - The Modern Tribe

Do you trust your friends?

That was the question posed earlier this year by Stars, the Canadian based band allowed their friends and associates in bands like Dears, Junior Boys, Final Fantasy, to cover their breakthrough album Set Yourself on Fire from start to finish. The results were mixed, the reviews were mixed, leaving no doubt in my mind that the best possible answer to the question is: depends.

With that in mind, I shall begin the latest installment of Little Blurbs, this time focusing on the Celebration, and their latest album, The Modern Tribe. Little Blurbs about Grizzly Bear and Japancakes are coming soon.

Celebration - The Modern Tribe

(4AD; 2007)

Grade: 68.0%

"Pressure" (mp3)
"Fly the Fly" (mp3)

As I've mentioned in another review, playing spot the influence is a favorite pastime among hipsters, music fans, and blossoming critics alike, but sometimes the game is just too easy, especially when said influences make guest appearances on your latest album. The Modern Tribe, the Baltimore based band's second album, was produced by TV on the Radio's David Sitek (who also produces his own band's fine material), and his fingerprints are all over the album, but even more than his production skills you'll also hear him and the rest of the TVotR gang playing guitars, singing lead and backup vocals, and doing whatever else they were apparently asked to do. The same also goes for Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeah's fame, who also plays guitar on the album. As one might expect, The Modern Tribe sounds very much like those two bands collaborated. It doesn't help that lead singer Katrina Ford spends most of Modern Tribe switching between Karen O's maturing coo ("In This Land"), and Tunde and Kip's rich harmonies ("Pressure").

However, despite the obvious leanings to their friends and contemporaries already established sounds, The Modern Tribe is actually pretty good. The band's reliance on organ and percussion sets them apart from sounding too much like the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, and hearing Tunde and Kip is always a pleasure. "Hands Off My Gold", for example, is one of the album's biggest offenders in the "sounds like TV on the Radio" department, but it also best fits the album's motif. With it's rhythmic percussion the song definitely sounds tribal, while touches of horns, organ, and Tunde's vocals, flesh out the sound, and clearly state what type of modern tribe Celebration are a part of: one that is greatly influenced by the artists around them. At worst, the album sounds like TV on the Radio b-sides sung by Karen O, but at times the album is a celebration of the unity between these bands, and a reminder that great minds think alike.

Should they trust their friends?
Certainly, especially the TV on the Radio gang. Those guys are going places.

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