# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Modern Studies - Welcome Strangers

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 31 / 5 / 2018

Modern Studies - Welcome Strangers
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Fantastic second album from Scottish folk quartet Modern Studies, whose music combines traditional song writing with technology

Welcome to the second full outing from Modern Studies and some seriously glorious pop music! This album will appeal greatly to those who adore the talents of Kate Bush, Broadcast or PJ Harvey. The press sheet says about ‘Welcome Strangers’ that “Here is a vision of Britain , a nation of dark magic, conflict, celebration and confusion, all at the same time,” and that encapsulates it perfectly. Formed in Scotland as a quartet in 2015, Modern Studies have swiftly staked their claim as one of Britain’s most innovative new bands. With Emily Scott (vocals, organs, piano, double bass) and drummer Joe Smillie (drums, mellotron, vocals) both based in Glasgow, and Rob St. John (vocals, guitar, synths, harmonium, tape loops) in remotest Lancashire and Pete Harvey (cello, bass, piano) in rural Perthshire, Modern Studies are a band of both city and country. That shows in their music in which traditional song writing meets souped-up technology. Releasing their debut album ‘Swell to Great’ to great acclaim in 2016, Modern Studies’ sound is based around a Victorian pedal harmonium with the band bringing other instruments as required in to build around that, and most notably a wonderful use of cello. ‘Swell to Great’ was hailed as an album of the year in ‘Mojo’ and was long-listed for the Scottish Album Of The Year Award 2017. Like that debut this second album was recorded in Pete’s rural Perthshire studio Pumpkinfield, as well as a beautiful village hall also in Perthshire. They received a grant from Creative Scotland allowing them to hire an array of session players. Contributors include sisters, wives, toddlers, free-form saxophonists and the Pumpkinseeds, a group featuring violins, violas, cellos, trombones and vocals. They spent most of 2017 working on it, and the songs themselves were written on trains, islands, in cottages and city flats and while out wandering upland fells and moors. Family is the central theme, the people you know, and the ones you don’t know. It's about the human race and our sense of place or belonging as we expand our horizons. One of the many standout tracks on this album is ‘Mud And Flame’, which references ‘Penda’s Fen’. Alan Clarke’s 1974 televisual examination of history, place and identity, and was incidentally finished on a Baltic island during a residency at temperatures of -25! Other tracks of note on here are the brilliant ‘Get Back Down’, which houses some intricate jazz rhythms and string and brass, and 'Young Sun', which is a shining example of the harmonies displayed on here. The harmonies are as strong as famous duos like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood and come close also to Kylie and Nick Cave in places here, especially on the last track ‘Phosphene Dreams’. Newly signed to Fire Records who also have recently put out releases by Jane Weaver, Pictish Trail, Bardo Pond and Noveller, they have also been busy on tour of large concert halls with King Creosote as well as doing a three-night multi-media concert with Lomond Campbell and the Pumpkinseeds Chamber Orchestra at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. At some stage Modern Studies seem destined for greatness. ‘Welcome Strangers’ will stay on the CD deck for some time.

Track Listing:-
1 Get Back Down
2 Disco
3 Mud and Flame
4 Let Idle Hands
5 It's Winter
6 Young Sun
7 Horns and Trumpets
8 Fast As Flows
9 The House
10 Phosphene Dream

Band Links:-

Label Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors