Modern Skirts
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Modern Skirts

Athens, Georgia, United States | SELF

Athens, Georgia, United States | SELF
Band Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review of 40 Watt show"

Friday, January 14
40 Watt Club

When the Modern Skirts started playing around town after changing their name from F.F.S. and reworking their sound last year, everyone sort of said they were an okay, no-big-deal band. I never caught them at their beginnings, but the consensus was that I wasn't missing too terribly much.

The 40 Watt show was the third Modern Skirts performance I've seen, I am glad I ignored the initial indifference: the Modern Skirts are incredible performers, and their songwriting is ridiculously good. It makes me mad that they're so good, because it isn't fair for a group of such naturally talented men to have all found each other. Their voices are beautiful, their technical proficiency is remarkable, and their arrangements are dynamic, interesting and prove their versatility. And they can rock the falsetto like crazy, which makes me melt.

The night opened with a band called The Californias. They were your run-of-the-mill five-piece harmonizing pop rockers who were, for some reason, dressed in matching suits like the Hives. I had a hard time stomaching their cheery, affected banter between the semi-boring, beach-pop songs.

The music wasn't unlistenable, but they were just so insincere in communicating with the audience. They said "We're the Californias" before every song; they counted before every song; they mentioned their profile and/ or web page and/ or mailing list and/ or where you could download things for free over every vamping intro. It was more sales pitchy than a guy trying to sell you a vacuum on commission. Then they told God to bless us, and departed.

The Films were the next band. I'd never heard them play before, but they were a solid group of harmony rockers. I wasn't knocked out of my socks, but they played some good music. My impression was that I had no real impression. I liked them, but I didn't love them.

Then the Modern Skirts went on. Zowee. When did Pink Floyd move to Athens? When the band members started, I was sitting towards the back of the venue expecting to enjoy the ambient sounds of their pretty pop music, but as soon as they kicked in, I got my ass right up to the front. They started in with a dark, ripping first song that veered at times towards prog rock. JoJo Glidewell, Jay Gulley and Phillip Brantley have three compelling voices that sound stunning live. They blend beautifully, and the guys exhibit tons of control. It's physically moving to hear them sing together. Glidewell explores his keyboard fully - he's an impressive piano player and he knows how to dig into the sounds his instrument provides without being gimmicky. John Swint provides the dynamic drums that drive the band's songs. They finished their first song with the audience really hooked and freaking out and Gulley sort of shyly remarked, "Oh, come on. That wasn't that good."

Well, he was wrong.

The rest of the set went on to prove that the Modern Skirts are a really good reason to love living and rocking in Athens, and specifically to love seeing shows live. They don't just get up and slop around on out-of-tune guitars. They are one of those bands whose live music sounds better than anything you could capture - or that they have captured - on recording equipment. They played "My Bully," a song off their This is Winning and Thinking EP. The song's vocals are sheer gymnastics, and I didn't think they'd have the guts to do perform it live; I was wrong, and they did, and it was flawless. The Modern Skirts don't need to hide behind posturized coolness. I think they could be wearing jean shirts and still be the coolest boys in town. They gracefully explored the songs they wrote, and their dynamic reveals they love making music together.

It's humbling to see a band that plays and writes so well. For their encore, Swint got up from behind his drum kit and rapped Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," which was 1) a really good cover and 2) effing hilarious. The Modern Skirts played one of the best shows I've seen at the 40 Watt, and that is a sentence I don't write lightly.

Bunny Mcintosh

Modern Skirts are playing at the Caledonia Lounge on Saturday, Feb. 12 and at Tasty World on Saturday, Feb. 26.
- Flagpole Magazine

"Music Box review"

Modern Skirts
Catalogue of Generous Men
(Go to Your Room)

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10

Written by Melissa Stroh

The members of Modern Skirts still have a doe-eyed, baby-faced look about them, and, while at first glance, the group might appear to be a run-of-the-mill, piano-driven, pop-oriented outfit, there’s more to its music than initially meets the eye. On its debut Catalogue of Generous Men, the band effectively has turned its inexperience into an advantage. In fact, its songs, about the gloriousness of fall days and moving out west for a girl, are so carefully crafted that they become immediately ingratiating. Even the bad times seem to be laced with a silver lining. On the album’s opening track N.Y. Song, for instance, front man Jay Gulley’s distinctively slurred vocals glide over the top of a simplistic piano progression, and it subsequently is impossible not to follow him on a journey through the streets and subways of New York City. The ensemble so effortlessly conjures its worlds, that the listener is drawn into them without even knowing it.

Part of Modern Skirts’ success can be attributed to its lyrics. Tracks like Pasadena and Save Me showcase the conversational approach that the group took with its material, and although this is a feat that other bands have attempted but failed to achieve, the Modern Skirts makes it work. Whenever its lyrics do falter, Gulley’s passionately convincing delivery keeps them from sounding trite.

While Modern Skirts isn’t afraid to strip down its music to just vocals and piano, it also doesn’t shy away from building up its arrangements to their full capability. As a result, the peaks and valleys of Catalogue of Generous Men go hand-in-hand with the unpredictability of the fall season. One track is cheery, full, and bright, while the next slowly descends into the darkest depths. Yet, even the saddest songs on the effort have a place and a purpose because the contrast between hope and hopelessness is precisely what makes Catalogue of Generous Men so magnificent.
- The Music Box by Melissa Stroh

"Slightly Confusing To (thee) Strangers review"

Modern Skirts
Catalogue Of Generous Men
( self!released! ) 2005

"My heart beats like an ant crossing a speaker in an A and B affair - I barely reach the other side."

Catalogue Of Generous Men is the debut album from the Athens, Georgia band Modern Skirts. Confident and comfortable in their own skin, Modern Skirts create breezy, piano-driven, sentimental songs that unfold like a series of anecdotes or random glimpses into the lives of strangers-- think sunny California AM pop meets its country-leaning Southern cousin (fuzzy math™: the Shins mixed with Hotel Lights plus a smidgen of Beach Boys, perhaps.) Brimming with keyboards, horns, strings, guitars and even some lap steel thrown in for good measure, Catalogue is equal parts polished, infectious, and charming. Opening track "New York Song" begins with a flourish of keyboards; with its singalong "If you like/ride a bike/it's better for the city," it simultaneously acts as a love song about NYC at the same time it laments the fleeting nature of love in the midst the chaos and fast-paced nature of urban sprawl.

Lead singer Jay's earnest (dare i say almost swoon-worthy?) vocals are charismatic, warm, and smooth as the darkest honey, and when mixed with multinstrumentalists Philip and JoJo's harmonies (Oh! The harmonies! Please listen to "Tonight, Before You Were Sleeping" for evidence.) the results border on magical. "September Days" floats along--"All along the streets are strangers filing into town/ But you and i must save a place for shadows on the ground"-- with dreamy vocals and an exuberant piano melody, and when the horns come in (right around 2:16) to finish out the song, there's no pretending that you're not dancing along in your chair. With crisp production, and just enough hooks to keep things sonically interesting, Catalogue is the best sort of summery pop soundtrack--replete with the promise of long aimless drives with windows down, lazy days, and sparkling sunshine.

s. :: [June'06]


" review"

10 March 2006

Modern Skirts, Catalogue of Generous Men (self-released Rating: 7
Adding to the already lengthy list of impressive bands from Athens, Georgia, Modern Skirts write and record the lush type of piano-based music Five for Fighting wish they had invented. Grandiose reverb and Beach Boy harmonies are the standard on this album. The songs are instantly memorable and impeccably structured. Modern Skirts could pass for an adult contemporary band, but that label doesn't do justice to their consistency. Track after track, melody after melody, Modern Skirts produce gorgeous pop music that has no qualms about its majestic style or its often sentimental subject matter. It's refreshingly indulgent, like splurging on the chocolate mousse even though it's loaded with calories and saturated fat. You know Catalogue of Generous Men has its fare share of nutritional horrors, but it's so damn rich and delicious that you can't help but eat the whole thing. [Insound]
— David Bernard
- Pop Matters, David Bernard


"This Is Winning And Thinking" EP - November 2004
"Catalogue of Generous Men" debut CD - Fall 2005
"All of Us in Our Night" - January 2009
"Happy 81" EP - July 2010
"Gramahawk" - November 2010



Born of four hopeful rednecks and numerous misconceptions, Athens, GA's Modern Skirts crept onto the scene in 2005 with its piano-laden debut record, "Catalogue of Generous Men." The record was very well received, landing at #11 on Paste Magazines' 50 Best Albums of 2005. Pop Matters also praised the debut for its “impeccably structured, gorgeous pop”. After some marginal touring success around the South and several sold out shows at Athens’ legendary 40 Watt Club, Modern Skirts took to the road for two years.  During that time, they gained a small but passionate following, while losing massive amounts of steam and developing a creeping ambivalence towards their initial musical output. 

Fearful of being pigeonholed as a piano-pop band, Modern Skirts began working on songs for a follow-up to "Catalogue of Generous Men." While penning this new material, the band scored a string of European dates in the summer of 2008, opening for R.E.M. in Amsterdam and playing at Glastonbury, Rock Werchter, and London‘s O2 Wireless Festival. These massive shows would ultimately prove to be fruitless and forgettable, save for their inclusion here. Modern Skirts would soon return to the studio with David Lowery (Cracker) and Mike Mills (REM) handling production duties.  "All of Us in Our Night" was the resulting effort that climbed its way to #22 on the CMJ charts. Darker and more electronic than its predecessor, "All of Us in Our Night" was lauded by Under the Radar as “one of the indie albums of 2009”. It was also heralded by Pitchfork as "bloodless, hermetic," and "not as good as the first one".

Still falling short of finding a truly unique and singular voice, the boys in Modern Skirts discovered something startlingly fresh in singer Jay Gulley’s bedroom recordings and immediately began work on their self-approached and self-produced third record, using these demos as a template. The band threw out the conventional procedures of recording they had encountered in previous sessions and began innovating their approach to capturing the songs on tape. The new material maintained the clever melodic and arrangement sensibilities of earlier recordings, but something more unique began to show itself as the songs actualized. After four decadent and dangerous weeks in New Orleans, "Gramahawk" was complete. 

In the spirit of building excitement for the upcoming "Gramahawk," the band mastered and released a collection of the original bedroom recordings digitally and with limited hand pressings as the "Happy 81" EP on July 6th. Despite a significant shift in focus, the record was warmly received by fans and critics alike, "a spectacular display of lo-fi pop with a real raw power to entertain" as cheerfully proclaimed. 

"Gramahawk" reintroduces Modern Skirts as a band honest to their musical tastes and to their desire to create and perform both intellectually crafted and inherently catchy songs. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the record, though, is the insight into Gulley's dark, imaginative and humorous brain. A song about Gulley's second DUI, an ode to 80's one hit wonder Jane Child, and a stomping, aggressive mantra about taking off his date's top while being serenaded by a Mariachi band are just the beginning. There is a gleeful and twisted pop evil afoot here.