Monday, September 28, 2009

The Modern Society - 'The Beat Goes On'

“Competent.” That’s about the best I can say about the heartland rock of The Beat Goes On, the latest from Georgia rockers the Modern Society. The quartet serves up 10 adequate slabs of radio rock in the vein of Goo Goo Dolls and Switchfoot, or perhaps a piano-less, more rock-centric Fray. But while the Gaslight Anthem and the Hold Steady are my generation’s collective E Street Band, then the Modern Society must be my John “Cougar” Mellencamp. Take that as you will.

On the plus side, the album is arguably filler-free and fast-paced. 10 songs, 35 minutes, no frills. And producer Stacy Jones (American Hi-Fi) gives the songs a pretty good sheen. Simply put, these guys could open for Aerosmith or something. But there’s little here to push me to either condemn or condone the Modern Society.

Opener “Matinee” sets the record’s formula. Vocalist Woody Brown is at the forefront, and dude’s got a decent set of pipes. Little bit of a whine, little bit of a howl, but nothing too offensive in any direction. The chorus is vaguely catchy – dig the gang vox. “Paper Moon” is the same song but catchier; it’s arguably the strongest track too. But nothing really breaks out of the speakers, as song by bland song rushes by. “Tokyo,” a love song to a Japanese girl half a world away, only stands out because it A) features Japanese and B) makes me want to put on Pinkerton. “Cosmonaut” is kind of infectious, though sometimes I just think that it sticks in my head because of the title. Space!

Still, The Beat Goes On is by no means a failure. It’s just an example of how you can make a record that’s technically accomplished yet totally boring. Besides, the Modern Society definitely has enough hooks to deserve radio play and an opening slot on a big name tour. The beat goes on, alright, but I’m already on another tune.

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