Remember the mid 90’s when grungy or experimental alternative rock was the music you and all your friends were listening to (if you weren’t born in the 80’s, then probably not. You’ll get the point regardless…)? You couldn’t turn on any rock radio station without hearing Our lady Peace, Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins or other bands of the sort. Sure, other genres like metal and hard rock were fairly prevalent as well, but these were not the genres topping the charts at the time. Here we are about a decade later and in at least one form or another, the sub genre of alternative rock seems to be making a huge comeback. This is a time where we’ve even seen many bands whom in the past were more inclined to the metal or core sides of the coin have been toning down their edgy ways to bring a sifter, more accessible version of their rock music. Much to the chagrin of a select few, this is the time we are living in and it is a perfect time for new bands to the scene to make their mark. Case in point; Modern Maps. Back in March, the group announced they had signed with Rise Records and would be releasing their debut album Hope You’re Happy. (seriously though…album title totally would have fit in with almost any 90’s alternative rock). Although a much modern twist on the sub genre, the group embodies that perfect alternative sound with slight touches of electronics and an almost dance like vibe to some of their tracks. Hope You’re Happy. is sure to please new and old fans of alternative immensely.
The sound of a flicking lighter and immediately you’re thrown in a danceable bass and drum line and Trever Stewart’s dynamic vocals with “Heatwave”. The song is ultimately the epitome of being catchy. Foot tapping melodies from start to finish, you almost don’t even notice that your body has begun to move and groove all on its own. Aside from the chorus being the only true part of the song that’s guitar driven, the instrument is added sparingly throughout the rest of the track if only to emphasize and certain aspects of the drums and bass or the overall catchiness itself. To meet a girl who seems so innocent, as if she warrants no concern for anything dangerous, but to only find out later she is danger incarnate is assuredly a familiar concept to many. This song makes that moment seem a little less fearful though.
There are so many moments on Hope You’re Happy. that the electronic-like aspects or samples are such a perfect addition that the exact element which they are used to emphasize or even just add to, would have been potentially lacking otherwise. All that’s meant by this is it feels as if Modern Maps truly put intense thought into what would actually work where and why. A perfect example of this is even just in the first few seconds of “Reflective Glass”. The song having an introspective message in its lyrics, the sounds and samples added only to help to further this point. The tones paired with the guitars, then the sampled drums during the verse almost command the listeners attention in possibly taking the same look at themselves as Stewart has. Have you done everything that you can in this life? Have you lived your dreams? Done something worth making a mark on this world? All questions others ask you in your life, but they never seem to have the same impact as when you find yourself staring back at the mirror with the same inquiries. This song has a perfect way of totally making the listener take a true look at themselves and have that potentially hard talk within their own minds.
“Nightfall” was the first taste the whole world would get of Modern Maps and Hope You’re Happy. Whether or not the bands intention throughout the album was to have such finger snapping, danceable tunes they’ve produced such an album in spades. This song is so much fun. In every aspect of the word. You WILL be shakin’ your groove thang when you hear this song. You WILL be singing along to every word if not for the sheer catchiness and infectious grooves, but for the simple fact that the lyrics speak to a forbidden explicit encounter (and who doesn’t like those?). Ahh, that one whom you should never be with in any shape or form. That one you should always stay away with, but that one dirty, hot night they left their mark on you and now like a shark with blood you crave more. Yup. Been there. But at least now we can dance about it instead of worry about it.
Purchase, download & stream “Hope You’re Happy.” here : https://RiseRecords.lnk.to/HYH You call every night, the same time 11:35 I wait by your street sign Heavy on my mind, an outline On me in the shape of your lips And how could I let you Give me that tattoo?
Probably one of the biggest surprises on the album when thinking about almost every other track is the standout acoustic song “One More Night”. It’s not that it’s out of place in any shape or form. Especially when thinking about the genre as a whole. A single (if not multiple) acoustic track is and always has been a staple on almost any album from almost any band in the genre. But for some reason or another it’s doubtful most would have seen this coming. And it is more than welcome. This is the type of song where you can picture a lone, broken soul sitting on a bar-stool on a small stage in a small-town bar. The individual is pouring their heart out over the loss of whom they are so deeply in love with, and the only catharsis is singing about how their heart will never be the same, and they wish they had just one more chance (yes that is also the plot of the actual songs lyrics). The song feels completely heartfelt, almost as if besides the fact that so much of the world will be listening to the song at some point or another, Stewart is in actuality only singing to one person. Hopefully they hear him.
One of the most beautiful songs of the record, perhaps even for its simplicity is “Something Different”. In itself the overall sound or lyrical content isn’t too different at all from many songs both old and new, but it’s what this song in particular is able to communicate through its sounds and feels that none the less sets in apart. An intro almost reminiscent of the M83 track “Midnight City” with the sound of its samples played over the natural instruments of the band couldn’t have been done any better. The pairing is magnificent and harmonious in such a way that those moments alone stand out long after the song is over. The sample used in the verses are echoing and haunting in a way that you’re pulled in and truly enthralled with all else that happens within the song. The song speaks to being stuck in an extremely toxic relationship with no way out. Again not an original concept, but conveyed in a way that feels fresh and beautiful. Stewart’s singing/borderline screaming in the chorus ‘I’m really begging for something different now!’ truly hits the subject matter home in a way that will tug at any listener’s heartstrings. The songs impactful emotion is what absolutely gives this track its own sound. Its what truly makes it Modern Maps.
Alternative rock is absolutely a sub genre of Rock that has and always will be a huge part of the music industry and will hold a place in so many music fans hearts. Throughout all the genres and subgenres, it seems to be one of the most sonically dynamic and adaptable of all. With so many bands coming around to it, and a multitude of other new and unknown bands it will be hard to truly stand out amongst your peers. Modern Maps are off to a more than phenomenal start with their debut album Hope You’re Happy. The album does an amazing job to giving the alternative bands of ‘ol an almost musically courteous nod of knowing where it all began, but at the same time waves a respectful farewell to the ways of old and states ‘we will be something more’. The whole album retains this fun and bouncy demeanor even when its lyrical content reflects something much different. That in itself can be quite the challenge where even if you want to convey something sad or somber, you don’t want to lose your listeners to a complete feeling of sadness or constant morose. The group has produced a well written and enjoyable listen from start to finish, which will surely put them on the map in this modern time.