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January 7th, 2004 Dave Clifford | Music Stories
 

The Magic Number

Modey Lemon proves that, in the garage-rock world, three's company.

     
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Modey Lemon
Modey Lemon has two strikes against it:

1) It plays a form of ever-so-trendy garage blues.

2) It was a duo--the new hipster badge of rock minimalism--during its first four years, up until the release of its second album in September.

Yet the Pittsburgh duo-cum-trio strikes back at its trendy trappings. With exceedingly loud, chaotic live shows and banshee-wailing, vocalist-guitarist Phil Boyd, drummer Paul Quattrone and keyboardist Jason Kirker bring viciously hook-laden noisy-blues-punk on their latest Birdman Records album, Thunder + Lightning.

Here's how the band sums up the album title: "Paul brings the thunder, Phil conjures the lightning: a profound concept." Modey Lemon eradicates those trendy drawbacks, first by approaching the blues as if to destroy the music entirely, and second, by simply adding another member--Kirker--to bolster the attack.

"We play a more metal style than other garage bands," says Quattrone. "Musically, we don't want [our influences] to end in the mid- to late-'60s." Like Motörhead playing Little Richard or the sloppy intensity of the early D.C. hardcore band Void covering the Yardbirds, Modey Lemon offers the promise of eruptive blues that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion squandered on goofball antics and bland songwriting.

On songs like "Crows" and "Enemy," Quattrone ferociously attacks his drums with the syncopated patter of Keith Moon, while Boyd screams and batters his pawnshop guitar. Kirker, meanwhile, fills in any available breathing room with Moog keyboard chirps and whistles. With all the success coming from three members, maybe they'll add a bass player, too.

"I hate bass players," Quattrone jokes. "I have a bass drum that I kick really hard, and Phil's guitar tone is really thick. That's enough low-end."

Maybe not.


Modey Lemon plays with Note Notas and Starantula Thursday, Jan. 8, at Dante's, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 door. 21+.
 
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