Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Modern Skirts, Catalogue of Generous Men

Every once in a while an album comes along that seems to slot so tightly into where you’re at that you listen to it endlessly and it comes to define a particular period in your life.  The three Buffalo Springfield albums did that for me in the late ’60s.  Modern Skirts’ Catalogue of Generous Men did it again in 2006.  It didn’t start out that way.  When I first put the CD on I thought “OK, heartfelt indie pop, not really my cup of tea.”  But I kept it in rotation and somewhere around the fifth or sixth time around it started to take hold.  Once it sunk its hooks in – and Modern Skirts know hooks – it never let go.

Modern Skirts is a quartet out of Athens Georgia composed of Jay Gulley (vocals, guitar), Jojo Glidewell (piano, guitar, vocals), Philip Brantley (guitar, bass, vocals) and John Swint (drums, percussion).  Gulley’s vocals and Glidewell’s piano are often featured but the band uses a rich instrumental palette and Glidewell takes lead vocals on “City Lights”.  Modern Skirts are so masterful at melody, harmony and song construction it’s difficult to believe Catalogue of Generous Men is a first album.  The contrapuntal three part harmonies of “Tonight Before You Were Sleeping” are lovely and exquisite.  “September Song” lilts with an easy sway that perfectly captures the soft days of late summer.  “Save Me” is sung with such raw emotion that it can be hard to listen to even when you’ve heard it a hundred times before.  “My Lost Soprano” is built on a barrelhouse piano that works so well you wish Glidewell would do more of it.  Almost every song on the album sounds fully realized. 

Catalogue of Generous Men was released independently and may be hard to find but it’s more than worth the effort.  Mike Mills, the bass player in a somewhat less obscure Athens band called R.E.M., turned on to Modern Skirts and brought them to Europe to open for some of R.E.M.’s shows this summer and they’re scheduled to play a set before Duke Spirit this Saturday, June 28, at Glastonbury – what I wouldn’t give to be able to fly to the UK for that gig! – so the band’s visibility may be on the rise.  They also have a new album scheduled for release late this summer.  If you are a fan of indie pop give Modern Skirts a listen.  Or, if you’re like me and don’t get it right away, give them time to work their magic because this is a band that has the magic.  We’ve listened to Catalogue of Generous Men hundreds of times and more and its never gotten old.  It’s a brilliant album.

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06/26/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] and Stones opens with “Cathedral” that has a vocal chorus that sounds so much like the Modern Skirts that I have to believe moe. spent time with the Skirts terrific album Catalogue of Generous Men.  […]

    Pingback by Review, moe., Sticks and Stones « Tuned In To Music | 06/26/2008 | Reply

  2. You can buy the album off of iTunes.

    Cheers!

    Comment by Russell | 06/26/2008 | Reply

  3. […] are familiar with Modern Skirts but the timing is certainly curious.  Modern Skirts first album, Catalogue of Generous Men, came out in August of 2005.  Their second, All of Us in Our Night, was released in October 2008. […]

    Pingback by Review: Local Natives, Gorilla Manor « Tuned In To Music | 06/09/2010 | Reply


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