Inspired by Tim Byron (www.livejournal.com/users/o_song), I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.
08. Modern Giant – Satellite Nights
For me, the fundamental thing about music can be summed up in one line – ‘what are you trying to say?’. And I know that most topics in the known universe have been written about already. But what hooks me every time is someone with a new take and a new perspective. Which is why a band like Modern Giant are so wonderful.
Modern Giant are from Sydney and I’ll say right up front that I’ve had the pleasure to share many a stage with them this year. And I’ve watched as they slip a new song into the set every few gigs or so, and then having the pleasure of hearing the songs on CD.
There are three types of Modern Giant songs really – Andy’s wonderful rock songs (the man plays a flying V for god’s sake), Ginny’s melancholy pop songs, and Adam’s spoken word dramas. This is a huge generalisation, but like the best albums with multiple songwriters, all they all rise to the occasion on this album.
The album opens with a gorgeous ballad, I’m Not Broken and from there it’s game on. “People are snapping all over the place…I’m not broken/I just fell apart”, hitting straight onto discomfort from modern life. Work, people, the pace…and finally coping or perhaps escaping. Where as Ginny is regretful about it, Andy comes on angrier and more directly with the single Hell Is Other People, and finally Adam finds the poetry and romance of it.
The spoken word pieces, of which there are three, are all great. All epic story songs, about escaping, either through fantasy (Angie Hart) or on a real bus (Heartbeat). Lyrically, they are some of the best things you’ll hear this year, but they also fit perfectly with what the band is doing. This isn’t Lou Reed reading the Raven.
To top it all off, there are some just corker pop songs, amongst them I Thought You Were Somebody Else, the best song on the album. What let’s the album down at times is the production. I wish I could have heard these songs with a crispness that comes with a Pernice Brothers album, or at least the rawer sound of Badly Drawn Boy. The same old trap (I’ve fallen for it too), of capturing the live sound. The arrangements, especially the drums, do such interesting things, but sound somewhat samey over the album. Also, the repeating of songs from their first EP. Always a bad move.
Finally, the album cover is also fantastic. As a fan of a new band, you always wonder how they will represent themselves on paper, and the cover is just great. One of the best this year.
But this is a great start. The newer songs in their set sound fuller. More lush. There is definitely a lyrical agenda. A great band. A real life poet (and a good one). Can’t wait for the next move.