Modern Classics (CD)


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Amanda Ratcliffe:

There's something rather intriguing about the front man behind this album - and strangely, I don't feel this way because of the music, but more for the stories I've read. Vorn Colgan came into our world in 1977 and from the sounds of things he's led his life in a simple yet complicated kind of way.

How that makes sense, I'm not entirely sure, but if you consider his past - which for a short while consisted of busking and sleeping in a tent, followed by residing in a hole under the stairs of an Aro Valley flat, it all becomes a little clearer. To put it plainly, the front man behind this album is a hobo.

For most, this congers up all sorts of un-desirable images, but take a listen to Vorn's Modern Classics, and you'll wonder what the hell I'm on about. It's charming, refreshing and screams New Zealand, which is something I've always appreciated in kiwi musicians - keepin' it rural and all that.

Lonely is the first song to feature on the twelve-track disc, which gives a good notion of what the rest of the CD is about. Including an array of instruments from trumpets through to violins, it's hard to imagine how these guys have managed to keep the album from becoming over crowded with sounds.

No doubt it was quite the task arranging these tunes, but they're all so fluffy and effortless that it never comes through in the music. That Night On Courtenay Place is a shining example of what I mean. If you want something international to compare it to, my choice is Glasow lads, The Fratellis.

Teamed up with the Colgan's eerie guitar plucking, I Wanna Rock leads you down an unexplored road filled with creepiness including the lyrics 'Sweetness you know I don't want to hurt you, but I will if I have to'. It's a disturbing change to the others, and for that reason it's one of my favorites.

In saying that, there are a few in there that provide the same feel through painful lyrics. The music behind Upper Hutt Symphony is crammed with love and happiness until Colgan sings cheerfully, '...And the hold up was you / Nailed beneath the wheels of the three thirty to Upper Hutt'. Yuckface.

Now, I usually find one song amongst them that doesn't quite fit, and in this case it's Small Words - which sounds like a fair bit of influence has been taken from The Streets. Being quite the fan of those controversial UK-sters, I love it, but like I said - doesn't quite fit in with the rest.

The last tune on this release is Shining Light, which is upbeat and brings you back to the same feel from the beginning. That famous guitar plucking is a feature throughout which is lovely, but I can't help but wonder if some of the harmonies thrown in are taking the piss?

My guess is that this album certainly wasn't made to be taken seriously. It's a delightful listen with some stories thrown in that I hope to God aren't real life occurrences. Either way, they've done a bloody good job in filling my day with sunshine, so thanks guys, keep it up! less


released June 1, 2009

Vorn Colgan-guit, voc,sequencers,trumpet,violin, melodica
Doctor Strangelove-key, voc
Simon Bayliss-bass, voc
Declan Bailey-drums
Hannah Cherry-vocals
Rick Young- vocals
Ras Stone- vocals
Thomas Liggett-violin, Viola
Michael Costeloe- trumpet
Aaron Lloydd- trombone



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