Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

New Grenada-Model Citizen EP

May 1, 2008

New Grenada – Model Citizen EP

(http://www.asaurus.org/records/main.html)Asaurus Records

Vintage grunge in a modern world. What?

I have nothing against grunge. I like Nirvana, I enjoy “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam and I’ve been known to hum Soundgarden songs from time to time. So trust me; when I say this next phrase, I say it as a statement of fact, not a statement of anger. Here it is:

Grunge is dead.

And I’m not sure anyone told New Grenada that when they set out to write Model Citizen.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Model Citizen’s four songs. The band plays together. The high-pitched vocals, while not the greatest in the world, fit with the material. The guitars play hooks. The drums provide some really nice fills. You can even hear the bass player, whose presence is not as common as I would like it to be in modern music. No, there’s nothing that’s wrong mechanically with these tunes.

Stylistically, they sound like they’re stuck in 1993. I suppose if you’re still an avid supporter of grunge, this is great for you. For me, this is a confusing release. “My Spirits Go Down With The Sun” is a really distorted, strum-up-and-down grunge song. It just is. “I don’t know what to think is true, and I don’t know what to think of you,” lead singer John Nelson cries out in the chorus, and I echo the sentiment. Even the solo has the tone and the rhythmic ideas of a grunge solo. I just don’t get what’s going on here.

“January 1st” and “Model Citizen” follow the same guidelines. Again, there’s nothing wrong with the performances, but I just don’t know why these songs exist. It’s like they’re mining a mine that people long ago found to be empty. “Model Citizen” even appropriates the low-end, clean-electric guitar tone that Nirvana nearly trademarked.

The one saving grace is (very appropriately) “I Will Let You Know Why.” If the title is to be believed, the reason that they had three grunge songs before it is to show us their influences when they reveal the less-grungy, more garage-y sound of this final track. The previous three tracks have a very closed feel; this fourth one has a wide-open, exciting feel to it. There are female harmonies, there are high-hat rattles, and they’ve dropped the monotonous grunge strum pattern for a more herky-jerky one that sounds more modern. It’s a good song, and I could see myself listening to it on the road.

So, in short, this release is confusing. If you like grunge, you’ll really like this. If you like garage-y, beach-y type music like the Raveonettes, you should iTunes “I Will Let You Know Why.” Other than that, this one is a puzzle.

-Stephen Carradini

Stephen@independentclauses.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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