Sirhan Sirhan EP
September 2nd 2008
The advent of adult pop alternative rock was a difficult time. During the mid 90’s, a fevered rush of talented but uninspired musicians emerged on the national music scene riding on the coattails of late 80’s early 90’s college radio and Seattle rock. They could shred, they could keep a beat, and in the parochial sense of the word, they could sing. Often they could do everything except what made the great bands of the early 90’s so exceptional; they lacked a certain madness, depravity, abandon, and self destructiveness that made the Pixies, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Pavement, and (yes) Pearl Jam worth while. College radio and Seattle rock became ubiquitous staples of MTV and suburban fashion. After the Violent Femmes distributed their collected opus Add it Up, chronicling their music from 1982-1993, there was no going back. It was a genuine and rare moment when radio pop and subversive rock met at a crossroads. The crossroads allowed future iconic bands like the Flaming Lips, who had been making music since the mid 80’s, to release songs on top 40 radio. On the other hand, it was only a matter of time before Candle Box, Bush, Semi Sonic, and Sponge would be playing all the summer festivals, seamlessly taking the banner of subversive rock away from those who had led the way. It was bait and switch all the way.
In a shocking segue, I turn to Miami Florida’s Modernage. Last year they released their latest EP Sirhan Sirhan and I have to say, the record hints at the very same domestication and pasteurization experienced last decade. It would behoove Modernage, or should I say Middleage, to go the route of Tonic or Train, not because they are untalented, but because the aesthetic they construct was never meant to be anything more than FM ready. In moments throughout Sirhan Sirhan, Mario Giancarlo slyly simulates Matt Berninger of The National (“Really?” you ask, listen to the chorus on Creatures), but without the earnestness. The music is pop; it is catchy and easy on the ears. Make no mistake Modernage knows song writing and all the little elements that go into putting out a really cogent, polished record. They have a market with plenty of potential fans. This 5 song EP thoroughly and unabashedly explores the genre of pop alternative- they makes no bones about their decidedly lacking constitution. This could be the beginning of a new era where pop radio is overtaken by this modified indie rock, but somehow I think that things have changed so much in the industry that the formula simply is not the same.