Before I even listened to Modern Folk X for the first time, I’m immediately taken with the band name. Superficial, sure, but a good name for your band/project/etc. is key and The Modern Folk is an excellent one.
The titles listed in all caps are intriguing as well, and after several minutes of ‘Borders Are Violence,’ the opening track on the album, I can see that this album serves as a statement of purpose for its author. An 8 song album with songs averaging around 3-4 minutes I also like how concise this record is. But enough about the parameters, let’s delve into the music.
These songs are loose indie rock that sound like if early Pavement was, dare I say the word, “folkier.” I think a better way of describing this record is it’s very experimental while also being earthy at the same time. I get the sense that with radical titles like ‘Future Without Capital,’ and ‘Complete Condemnation,’ The Modern Folk has experienced his share of suffering: I can hear pain in every track and the album shows how a musician can take any kind of pain and turn it into art.
I can’t say I know what specifically inspired this record, or whether it was a combination of things, but I feel like The Modern Folk’s songs invite you in a very personal way. At the same time, the main band I keep thinking about as I listen to this record even though they sound different is 1960s folk radicals, The Fugs.
The Modern Folk’s Modern Folk X continues folk music in the tradition of The Fugs and Holy Modal Rounders, instead of the early 70s singer-songwriter variant that emerged after folk-rock. The songs ‘Borders Are Violence,’ and ‘Future Without Capital’ sound great, but I think my favorite tracks on the album are ‘Cool Guy Bullshit’ and ‘Hippy Nite Improv.’
The former I’d make the single for the album, and the latter is on the opposite end of the spectrum as the most free-form album track. ‘GDTRFB’ is a nice traditional folk follow-up to ‘Hippy Nite Improv.’ It almost sounds like something that would have been sung around a campfire in the early 1960s.
Maybe the most impressive thing about Modern Folk X is the diversity of sounds. Suddenly in ‘GDTRFB’ a synthesizer appears but what does it mean? Did The Modern Folk get abducted by aliens going down the road feeling bad? Or did he just trip out for a second? I don’t know, but it’s definitely a cool song.
‘Wilderness of Love’ is a catchy closer and also a good candidate for an album single were The Modern Folk to release one. The 2:30 song length provides a perfect framework for The Modern Folk to end this album. Modern Folk X is abrasive at times, it’s certainly odd, but it’s also catchy and rooted in tradition.
I’d recommend Modern Folk X to anyone with an interest in experimental or folk music. It’s a very enjoyable album that gets to the point immediately. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this artist.