Modern Rivals
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Modern Rivals

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Rock Alternative

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Whether you're going back five, ten, fifteen, or even fifty years, Modern Rivals bear the sound of retro friendliness on the first single from the Brooklyn quintet's upcoming LP Cemetery Dares. The moment you hear Erick Lee's high, piping vocals on "Pins and Stitches", you're set off running through the past 40+ years of Beach Boys-influenced indie rock—insular Elephant 6 popcraft, the madcap psychedelia of Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips, Animal Collective's urban pastoralia. Referential for sure, but in covering about a decade per minute, Modern Rivals show a present-day curiosity towards the endless access to the past. - Pitchfork


Getting older never feels right. The past gradually fades from memory, and our faces show all that we’ve been through, age rippling out in wrinkles. Modern Rivals know that we’re gradually dying, but that’s not going to hold them back from discovering new joys. “Pins and Stitches” is their optimistic anthem, vocalist Erik Lee pulling off Panda Bear-like vocals, the band building a foundation of Beach House guitar patterns and glimmering synth steps. Modern Rivals’ upcoming LP, Cemetery Dares, is due April 22nd. - Consequence of Sound


Play
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins
May 15 2014, 9:00 AM ET
Modern Rivals have an ear for pop but a restless hankering for something more. That comes across handily on the Brooklyn-via-St. Louis band's new album Cemetery Dares, whose songs are equal parts inviting and itchy. To sample the sound, look no further than "The Dead Leaves (Danse Macabre Before Midnight)." The track's brand new Michael Fails-directed video strikes that same balance, pitting beauty and innocence against choppy GIF-like editing and some sort of black-magic-derived psychedelia. We won't give much away, but watch and be transported from a plain old bathtub to an oddly lit graveyard, all thanks to some pretty delicious-looking green goop. Pick up Cemetery Dares now. - SPIN


Often, when I stumble upon a new, talented band, I think to myself, “wow, these guys have the potential for a really tight sound!” A few days ago, though, when I hit play on Modern Rivals’ (@modernrivals) Bandcamp page, I was amazed not so much by the band’s blatant potential, but rather as to why their new EP, Sea Legs, hasn’t yet become the talk of the indie music lovers’ town.
Originally hailing from NYC’s suburbs, Modern Rivals popped into the buzzing Brooklyn scene in 2010 with their debut, self-titled EP. In an interview with Cardinal Playlists, I learned that before making the move to Williamsburg, three of the band’s members had been playing music together since middle school. Their dissimilar artistic tastes, ironed out by many years of experience as bandmates, led them to become a fantastically cohesive and engaging ensemble.
Modern Rivals’ precise yet vibrant style evokes comparisons to bands such as Dog is Dead and Local Natives. With straightforward orchestration — clean vocals, multiple guitars, ornamental keys and energetic beats — they’ve woven together a sophisticated and colorful release with Sea Legs. Their refinement is balanced with an innately youthful vibe, as exhibited by the title of the opening track, “Defenestrate You” (meaning “throw you out a window” — I had to look it up). Also embodying a Freelance Whales-like beauty in songs such as “Clocks vs. Darts” and “Riku”, the band delivers a uniquely diverse spectrum of sounds. - The Wild Honey Pie


A very, very long time ago (~18 months ago) we introduced you to a Brooklyn band called Modern Rivals whose Sea Legs EP was one of the most underrated releases of 2012. So we’re glad that they’re back!

“The Dead Leaves (Danse Macabre Midnight)” furthers their brand of organic psychedelia with math-rock tendencies that manages to combine the disjointed layers of Alt-J and the swirling synths of Animal Collective. It’s a shame that even with such an established sound, the five-piece is still completely under-the-radar. Hopefully this will change with their forthcoming album that is sure to be spectacular.

Modern Rivals will release their debut full-length Cemetery Dares on April 22nd. In the meantime, you can download the new single, check out the album tracklist, and peep their forthcoming NYC-area tour dates below. - Unrecorded


There’s a great deal of familiarity in a song like “The Dead Leaves”, the newest offering from the songwriters behind the New York-based Modern Rivals. Indie pop remains, as it is said, all the rage these days, and lush slices of garden pop such as this one aren’t hard to come by. But what Modern Rivals do, as any great band should, is remind us of why those things become familiar in the first place: simply put, they’re unshakably appealing.

“The Dead Leaves” is the ideal song for a vintage photo montage, preferably one with lots of people smiling, eyes hidden beneath vintage shades. The synths practically glow as they emanate from the speakers, but their cheer isn’t forced or saccharine. It’s warm and inviting, and as fine a respite from the throes of winter as anyone could ask for. - Pop Matters


I am honestly amazed that Modern Rivals, are not better known, because they are killer. Tempted as I am just to leave it at that and let you listen for yourselves, I guess I should earn my keep here and actually tell you a bit more. There are five of them: Erick, who sings and strums a guitar; Schiff (mm hm), who sings and tinkles the ivories; Mickey, who also strums a guitar; Andrew, who sings and slaps the bass; and Alex, who bangs the drums. Given that, you’d hope that they could build up some pretty lush soundscapes, and they can. Oh yes they can.

They’re based out of Brooklyn and have been playing together since middle school – since I’m a Brit, I still have no idea what a middle school actually is, but I figure this basically means they’ve been playing together for some time. It certainly seems that way: they take on some pretty complex arrangements and the results are impressively tight. At times they put me in mind of fellow Brooklynites Conveyor, although where Conveyor‘s instincts lead them towards the weird, Modern Rivals tend to stick thoroughly to pop. I mean that as a compliment – their music is very, very listenable.

Their latest offering, the Sea Legs EP, is a good demonstration of this approachability. At just four tracks long, it certainly doesn’t suffer from any flabbiness; not to mention the fact that “Defenstrate You” has got to be one of the best song titles of recent years. The band recorded the EP themselves, with mixing coming courtesy of none other than Chris Coady. If you don’t know Chris, he’s the production wizard behind Beach House‘s “Bloom” and “Teen Dream”, amongst about a bazillion others. The two bands don’t have much in common, admittedly, although occasionally I can’t help but think there are some parallels between the reverby organs in the background.

They do remind me more forcefully of the likes of The Drums or Vampire Weekend, what with their upbeat sound, intricate percussion, shifts in tempo, and so on. They’ve been described as power-pop – a label I’m loathe to use given its usual associations, but it’s true that they do crank up the distortion at times in a way that neither of the former really do. Perhaps the closest similarity for me, though, is of Montreal: no bad thing, I hope you’ll agree.

I can’t confirm either way whether they’re named after Lewis Carroll’s defence of Euclid’s Elements, but somehow that seems largely irrelevant.

If you’re lucky enough to live in or near Brooklyn, they’re playing Cameo Gallery tomorrow at 10pm; if they’re anything like as tight live as they are on record, I can pretty much guarantee that’ll be an awesome show. Even if you can’t make it along, don’t despair: Sea Legs is available to download in full for free via Bandcamp. It’s criminal that it hasn’t had more attention yet, so do your bit by downloading it, loving it, and forcing it on all of your friends. They shouldn’t take much convincing once they hear it. - Listen Before You Buy


Of all the post-Animal Collective oddball pop bands to emerge in the last decade, Modern Rivals come as close to achieving the same euphoric highs as any. The budding Brooklyn five-piece have only two EPs to their name, so you’d think they’d be all fresh-faced and green behind the ears, but their latest effort is among the most evocative and illusory releases of the year so far. The swirling piano loop and buoyant, hard-hitting rhythm section on “Defenestrate You,” intentionally or not, invokes vintage Collective; But as a whole, Modern Rivals’ music has a distinctly “rock band” quality, with each moving part fitting seamlessly and collectively in unison. Born Ruffians, Nurses, New Animal, and more recently Yeasayer have all attempted to strike the same balance between quirky accessibility and concerted resonance, but I’m not sure any have displayed the same degree of pop competency that Modern Rivals do, especially this early in their development. - Music for USB Ports


"Their complex, yet gracefully composed arrangements radiate a sort of controlled chaos, as textures and tones swim along with a glowing beauty. All the while, the band keeps one foot firmly planted in the songwriting world, seamlessly integrating the good bits of pop music with exploratory intricacies." - Filter Magazine


Discography

Cemetery Dares (coming 4/22/14)

Sea Legs EP (2012)

Photos

Bio

Brooklyn quintet Modern Rivals seems somewhat fittingly named for their transcendent psychedelic pop that both evokes antique 60s mod optimism, while also sounding defiantly current with their experimental edge.

Modern Rivals ethereal and dextrous songs share the buttoned-up charm of 60s psych-pop bands, mixed with more technically crafty contemporary composition. Then, all of the elements are given the Nigel Godrich dreamscape approach in which no single sound is exactly what it seems. There is a delicate warmth to Modern Rivals songs emanating from every meticulously placed note.

Their debut full-length album, Cemetery Dares, will be available on LP, CD and download on April 22, 2014. The album was produced by Kyle "Slick" Johnson (Wavves, Cymbals Eat Guitars). The lead single "Pins and Stitches" has already gained positive reactions from the likes of Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound. 

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/16672-pins-and-stitches/

Band Members