Album: I Was Young, It Was Dark (2009)
Artist: Modern Rifles
Where available/price: ModernRifles.net, $10; CDBaby, $10; Amazon, $11.99
Songs: 1) Introplane 2) Terroplane 3) Lie to Me, Ian. Lie to Me 4) Feck Me If I’m Wrong, but Is That a Ham Sangie in Your Hands? 5) United Lead 6) Man the Ramparts! Bananalyze the Trade Winds! 7) Illegal Dracula!!! 8) Kip Winger 9) Say a Prayer to St. Happenin’ 10) Manbird 11) Chuck Woolery Is Leviathan
Band: Dan Deaton (vocals/guitar), Daryl Thompson (bass), Brian Garbark (drums/vocals), Jon Fong (guitar/vocals)
Beneath the wet-blanket production and shout-along choruses of I Was Young, It Was Dark lies a listenable disc. You have to weed through the modern-rawk, Jimmy Eat Cheez to get to the post-core center, but you’ll find a band in Modern Rifles that stands with old guns such as Jehu (“Feck Me If I’m Wrong”), Jane’s (“Kip Winger”), and Helmet (“Chuck Woolery”).
Despite employing only one hometowner in Fong, the Rifles sound as if they ran headfirst into San Diego’s wall-of-sound ’90s, with their preening leads and buzzsaw riffage, but that wailing wall is propped up by steady, bone-deep backbeats and roller-coaster bass lines. If not for the upside-down engineering on tracks such as “Man the Ramparts,” “Illegal Dracula,” and “St. Happenin’,” this quartet could trip critics’ Nirvana-meter.
The song titles suggest alt-rock ironists à la Frank Black and the Ween boys, but the vocals are damp, which is probably okay, because what you can glean smacks of emo. I know...they’re young, it’s dark.