Modern Vices: A Modern Take on an Old Sound

Modern Vices’ self entitled album evokes emotions that range from peaceful, to desolate, and peak in the passages where lead singer, Alex Rebek, lets loose with blatant screams as the guitars hoist him up under a cacophony of sound. The underwater, lo-fi feel makes it seem as if the music is not coming through your headphones, but instead blasting through the open doors of a Chicago nightclub as you walk by. 

The band is a quintet from the windy city of Chicago, with the driving force being the singer and the guitar duo, characterized by their fuzzy, dirty sound. 

Modern Vices’ sound is unique given the time period. The album was released in 2014. At a time when lo-fi and bedroom pop were steadily on the rise, the band chose to take heavier influences from garage rock. 

With a guitar sound reminiscent of bands from the post-punk revival, such as The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand; guitarists, Peter Scoville and Thomas Peters borrow the dirty, static sound of their early 2000s counterparts, but cover it in a blanket of lo-fi fuzz and jazz chords that resonates with the lo-fi movement of the 2010s. 

The other half of Modern Vices’ distinct sound is singer, Alex Rebek. Rebek has a voice that ranges from the low rumbly sound of an exacerbated soul to the soaring wails that overpower the guitars and echo through the halls. 

His voice has the same hollow, resonant, and intense feel as 1980s punk singer, Glenn Danzig. The band gets a punk feel from Rebek’s Danzig-esque voice that can produce feelings of intensity and calm alike. 

While the distinct, dirty tone never stops throughout the album, each song has a different vibe, and demonstrates the band’s ability to create a wide variety of songs. Songs such as the albums opener, “Keep Me Under Your Arms”; or, singles: “Smoke Rings” and “Baby”, are slow and mourning throughout, with echoing vocals creating a feeling of distance. 

Other songs, such as “As it Never Came” and “Taller in the Sunshine” have a distinct resemblance to The Strokes, with their in your face aggressiveness and upbeat, faster style. These songs give direct contrast to the slower, more methodical songs on the album. 

The two songs that really showcase the band’s ability, and give you a feel for the band are “Cheap Style” and “Baby”. 

“Cheap Style” is a faster, more intense song, but it’s grounded enough that it feels more consistent compared to the other faster songs on the album. The song floors you right out the gate, with Rebek starting strong and never letting off and the guitar duo playing the most catchy riff on the album that pushes the song forward with melodic intensity. 

“Baby”, on the other hand, is slow and thoughtful throughout, with passages that are delicate and others that show the levels of intensity the band can reach while still keeping a slow tempo. 

Modern Vices has a sound that spans across genres and time periods. You can hear influences from garage rock, jazz, and punk throughout the entire album, all under a subtle lo-fi filter. This album shows the band’s ability to make moments of intensity, calm, and sadness while perfectly combining genres.

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