Constantly dogged by the plague of two-piece raw blues that spread a couple of years ago, Pittsburgh's Modey Lemon has since ingested a bass player and perhaps some other remedies, turning into a swaying psychedelic beast in step with its label's impressive punk-psych roster.
On Modey Lemon's latest, The Curious City (Birdman), the band's kitchen-sink approach resembles a post-raid meth lab, with nasty chemical residue splotched around the joint. The formula mostly works, high spots being "Mr. Mercedes" and "Mountain Mist," on which crashing drums, catchy choruses, rolling metal bridges, ringing guitar leads, and psychotic synth sounds take precedence. And Paul Quattrone continues to be one of the most impressive rock drummers around, often saving tunes with his inventive slamming.
Too bad singer Phil Boyd isn't so effective. His surreal yarns and talk/squawk trade-offs often sound as if they're coming from some aspiring model who just heard "some weird shit" on the gaffer's boombox during his Target commercial shoot. He could gruff it up a bit to match the physicality of the music.
Modey Lemon has definitely made large leaps since its inception. Live, what once was basically that two-piece raw-blues thing has become a powerful cacophonous heave that falls somewhere between the growing psych-rock and noise-rock scenes. But for all the frazzled beeps, buzzes, and beats, there's a whole lot of life here.