Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Modern Wild - EP - The Modern Wild

This release comes from a group I have reviewed before - but under a different name. Bay Area natives The Modern Wild, formerly known as Brave City (see my review of their first release nearly four years ago - wow!), have rebranded themselves and released a new EP to showcase the change in sound and direction. Mike, who plays guitar and keys, is a friend of mine from high school and asked me to check out the latest release. Having enjoyed the last release at the time, I was glad to oblige.

The first song, "White Rope", kicks things off in a more intense, aggressive manner than the rest of the EP. Feeling somewhat similar to their earlier material, The Modern Wild shows that they have grown up a bit - as well as their increased musical talent. Tighter guitars and drum riffs are exemplified through both the evident skill and the higher production and recording quality. Mike told me that the band built their own studio to record in, and the production was handled entirely by himself and Brian Matthews, one of the other guitarists (they have four in total!). That fact alone is impressive, as well as being evident in the sound - it's still got a bit of the homegrown feel to it, but also being good quality sound. "White Rope" has a bit of a early 2000's emo feeling to it; it leans more towards the alternative-rock side, but you can feel the influence of that era the strongest on this track. There's even a moment at around the 2:15 mark that feels a bit like System Of a Down, in the way that harmonies come together over a bit of a stripped down instrumental. The song is a perfect way to start the EP.

"Seattle, CA" pulls back the aggressive-nature of the previous track, but maintains the intensity in a different manner. Channeling a bit of Manchester Orchestra, the band slowly builds up from the quiet beginning into a wall of sound, not moving in the way that a song is typically structured but just constantly building the power behind the song. Especially looking at the lyrics by themselves, it feels more like a poem than the verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern most songs move through. I especially like this set of lyrics, which are during the climax of the song, and feel particularly intense:

"The rain will come and wash me
Into the sea
As winter takes its hold
Come wrap yourself around me
Come breathe me in
Come save me from this cold
I feel you rise above me
You're sinking in
Your hands were mine to hold".

Speaking of lyrics, the next song, "Speak of the Devil", feels like it's got a heavy focus on the lyrics, a bit more than the previous songs. With lines like

"Is the view from your nest worth the depth of the fall?"


"'Ashes to ashes we’ll all burn away'
All of the fauna now gathered around you
Singing 'Fire, Fire, Fire'",

it's easy to see why the band wanted to words to really be the focus, and how they built an instrumental to both keep the attention vocally but still add to it. It doesn't quite reach the same intensity as "Seattle, CA", but it definitely has a fire of it's own.

"The Sound and the Fury" is a bit more of a subdued number - a bit slowed down, yet not without it's own spark. It's got some of that Manchester Orchestra vibe to it, but with their own twist - the two vocalist aspect is always a unique feature, and makes it's mark on this song especially. I especially liked one lyric line from this number:

"Wrapped in the kiss of twilight
Your glow is green, soft amber, and golden
And your gravity pulls me in"

it's got a poetic feel to it, yet also draws a bit on space imagery - as the rest of the song does. Two things I very much enjoy in one tune? Sign me up.

The album finishes out with "All That Needs to be Done", which moves away from the rest of the EP in its soft, acoustic sound and layered vocals. It's a very pretty, beautiful sound - calming, soothing, and relaxing. It's a great choice to finish the release out with, as it reveals a different layer to the band, a new dimension of their capabilities as a group.

Overall, this release really shows the strength and potential this band. 4 years of playing and growing has shown itself in this release, and I'm very curious to see what comes next. The band plans on following up this release with a full length album soon, so be sure to look out for that! Check out their Facebook page here for music and news from the band.

Great job guys!

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommended: "Seattle, CA", "All That Needs to Be Done"

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