We’re living through interesting times (to put it in the most banal terms possible). A dangerous virus, the spread of which seems indiscriminate, continues to rage. A racial reckoning, something like 400 years in the making. Mass protests. Confusion. Anger. Sadness. Trauma.
A lot to process, yes.
But for artists… well, that’s kind of their thing. Processing, to put it another way, is the process. And we’ve only yet had a taste of what it looks and sounds like when the creative class unpacks–or tries to make sense–of our modern narrative. As viewers and listeners–consumers of this art–do we lean into the artist’s expressions of their own confusion, anger, sadness–their unloading of their trauma? Or do we tune out? Put on a good pop song and watch some trashy TV?
Well, as long as we’re quarantining, embracing our new lives as toilet-paper hoarding, Netflix-binging shut-ins, can we not do both? Rot our brains with heavy doses of saccharine while still raging against the machine?
I say yes! And for a cathartic release, might I suggest the loud, dynamic, and angsty new EP from Jax indie-emo quintet Modern Violence?
Mid-pandemic, the band took to the slow drip-drip of single drops, offering listeners hors d’oeuvres in the form of the tender, yet intense “St. Gregory” and the crunchy, melodious rocker “Past Life.” Now we get the full the meal, a dexterous, emotionally raw, and decidedly heavy scream fest called About Bravery.
Though the album was recorded seemingly a lifetime ago (January), the songs, in some ways, foreshadow the new-normal, the band steeling itself for our present moment, when more questions exist than answers.
As the title suggests, About Bravery‘s five songs grapple with preconceived notions of human behavior. Lyrically, the songs explore courage, masculinity, and other character-linked expressions vaguely defined in our shifting and ethically obtuse modern world, trying to square those notions with a kind of moral compass born of actual experience. Appropriate questions to ponder. And ponder Modern Violence does, literally screaming existential questions above the fog of the group’s multi-layered atmospherics.
After opening with the aforementioned “St. Gregory,” things get exceedingly primal on “Cut from the Cloth,” where the lyric from which the EP draws its name is teased the first of several times throughout the collection. “I can’t say what we’re meant to believe about bravery, ’cause the chemical seems to be getting stronger,” Brantman draws out in “Cloth”‘s opening salvo, before the full band (John Shannon on keys, Jeremy Blanton on bass, Ty Sullivan on drums, and Bobby Marino on guitar) bring the thunder–and Brantman, the screams! “We get cut from the cloth/then we decide our lives/if we can navigate the guilt we cast aside.”
“Lost in the Pace” opens mellow enough, with a clean guitar riff over propulsive drums and Brantman’s Brian Aubert-esque inside voice. It eventually proves one of the most dynamic tracks of the EP’s five songs, twisting around a handful of distinctive melodies, the full band dropping in and out in service of Marino’s tasty guitar licks, before, ultimately, boiling over into a scalding stew of intensity.
The band again shows off its dynamism on “Leading Me Backwards.” With Shannon’s melancholy synth-line serving as the song’s North star, “Leading” is also the collection’s most hook-y, featuring a soaring, wrathful chorus: “You try to start again/when it gets hard again/you feel complete when you can write something that you mean/it’s lost and found until the people you tell that it’s alright.”
With “Past Life”–a crunchy, dense tune about coping with regret, rounding out the collection–the five songs on About Bravery are the best representation of the band as it was intended–a multilayered, melodious approach to heavy rock sonics, buoyed by brutally honest lyrics. Measured on the decibel meter, it’s on the loud end of the spectrum, a fitting outlet for listeners looking for a kind of guitar-based spiritual cleansing. That is to say: If searching for release, About Bravery is certainly worth leaning into.
Click play to rage and scream and cope along with Modern Violence.
Watch the MV boys rip into the tune “Good Friend” from our Into the Void: Office Music Series below.