taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder


It’s not a slight to say that contained within Modena’s ( self-titled debut EP is the sound of a beginning band. While there’s nothing abnormal about fledgling rockers wanting to rock out the same way their icons did, the Raleigh hard-rock quartet so clearly displays their influences that the eight-track offering flirts with obsolescence. While rock music branches off into innumerable new frontiers under the indie banner, Modena finds itself backpedaling into the Ace Frehley-inspired shredding of the late ’90s and early 2000s. From a technical standpoint, the young quartet plays well beyond their years. Smoothly shifting guitar melodies punctuate moody album opener “Acquiescence” and the angry rumble on “Hang It High” is as emblematic of the post-grunge era as one could want. Problem is, it’s all been done before. But it’s hard to hold that against a group that sounds as sincere and enthusiastic as Modena. It’s clear from every tersely contrapuntal drum fill and melancholy lead-in that this is the music that stokes their fires. They go on to show so much more promise toward the end of the album with “87,” a song whose chugging guitars display an experimental bent urgently needed throughout the rest of the album. While the debut EP looks back a little too much overall, it’s still early in the game for Modena and clearly the potential is there for a big step forward.



DECORATION GHOST The Haze of Wine and Age

It’s a sobering thought that Decoration Ghost’s ( February release The Haze of Wine and Age might just be the last record we ever hear by a Tim LaFollette live band. And if that’s the case, then the ALSstricken bassist’s valediction is a truly meaningful representation of his greater overall contribution to Triad music.

Contrary to the enervating effects that ALS has on the body, The Haze of Wine and Age galvanizes from the driving riffs that introduce “Father’s Fists” to choral shout-along that sees “Horizon” out. Of course, LaFollette doesn’t do it alone. Amidst the relationship between his muscular quarter-note and occasional chromatic runs and the crisp upbeats of Joe Garrigan, fuzzy rhythm and jagged lead guitars pepper a landscape dominated by the three-part vocals of LaFollette and guitarists Devender Sellars (who moonlights as YES! Weekly art director) and Scott Hicks. The album’s lyrical sensibilities give a heavy nod to vintage North Carolina pop, with equal parts shouted and sung verses short on dense metaphor and long on evocative storytelling. There’s enough here to please fans from any of LaFollette’s projects, but more importantly, it’s a straight-up, rock-solid addition to anyone’s musical collection.


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