Sound — 7
Philly boys Modern Baseball surprised fans with a new 6-song EP a few weeks ago. As an avid listener of the band, I was tremendously excited. Although half of the tracks were already released as individual singles, I am happy to say they did not disappoint. Modern Baseball consists of Brendan Lukens (singer/guitarist), Jake Ewald (singer/guitarist), Ian Farmer (bassist), and Sean Huber (drummer). Usually, Lukens and Ewald write their own songs and sing them separately. On this EP, Ewald only has one song while Lukens take care of the other 5.
The EP was recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia. Like their past releases, the band produced and engineered the record themselves. It was mixed by Matt Schimelfenig at Miner Street Recordings and mastered by Ryan Schwabe at Maniac Mansion. Modern Baseball gives a lot of credit to Schimelfenig on this release for his hard work and creative ear.
"MoBo Presents: The Perfect Cast EP featuring Modern Baseball" is full of random timing and tempo changes, which I find very inventive and almost genius musically. The overall sound of the EP seems a little different compared to MoBo's previous releases. It reminded me of something like The Weaks (especially "The Thrash Particle"). They introduced a tambourine on one of their tracks, "The Waterboy Returns," which is different for them. As a whole, it actually sounded more like a live session, which is what I think they were actually going for. If you are a fan of the band, you know that they are phenomenal live.
Lyrics — 8
If you are a fan of Modern Baseball it is most likely because of their lyrics. They write some of the most relatable stuff out there today. However, this release doesn't have a single social media reference like all of their other albums. After canceling a European tour due to mental health issues, Lukens was eager to write and record new material. A lot of the tracks are about how he dealt with his depression. Whether you like his nasally vocals or not, there's no way you can't appreciate what he's singing about.
01. "The Waterboy Returns" - This has to be my favorite track on the EP. Lukens is singing as the people who tried to get him to stop being so gloomy and wanted him to get outside. I found it very interesting for him to write in that perspective rather than write about people bugging him to get out more. Lukens credits Cameron Boucher of Sorority Noise as a huge inspiration for this song. The chorus has my favorite line of the whole record: "Death won't bring friends and flowers to your grave." To me, this is saying that your actions won't always stir up the attention you hoped for. This track is the most like all of the band's previous songs.
02. "Alpha Kappa Fall of Troy the Movie Part Deux (2 Disc Directors Cut)" - This was originally released on Lame-O Records' "Strength in Weakness" compilation as "Alpha Kappa Fall of Troy the Movie Part Deux" in early February of this year. Ewald sings about being dishonest with himself and realizing how half-assed his life has become. The track hits you with timing changes from 4/4 to 7/4 back to 4/4 and then 3/4. This is the type of song that would sound incredible live.
03. "Infinity Exposed" - Here, Lukens describes his mundane touring life and being stuck in some sort of loop. He'd tour for months at a time and then return home and never leave his house. Lukens would wake up at 3pm and not go back to sleep until 6am. Then he'd do it all over again. This song is really about the people who stood by him during this slump.
04. "The Thrash Particle" - This song was released as a single in October. Lukens sings about a classic case of jealousy. The chorus at the end is one of my most favorites that the band has ever written. Surprisingly catchy and quite relatable. This is another song that would sound better live.
05. "...And Beyond" - The first thing that will catch your attention on this track is when Lukens messes up in the beginning. I am so glad they kept that on the song. It makes it feel so much more real and, in a weird way, sort of reiterates what the band is all about. This song describes how easy it became for Lukens to say goodbye to people. However, when it came to someone he really loved, he wasn't ready to say goodbye, no matter how right it seemed to give up.
06. "Revenge of the Nameless Ranger" - This was released as a single in September. I've overplayed it so much since then that it has almost started to lose some of it's magic. I really like the title to this track. Modern Baseball's first ever release was an EP titled "The Nameless Ranger" back in 2011. This song is about history repeating itself and everything happening for a reason. Lukens feels like his life reboots every 5 years or so. For once it could be for the betterment of himself, but not without sacrifice. Towards the end of the track, the tempo slows down almost completely halfway. This is another one that would kick ass in concert.
Overall Impression — 8
Modern Baseball keeps saying that this release is the perfect bridge between their past releases and their new ones. They are currently working on a new LP entitled "Holy Ghost" which is set for an early 2016 release on Run For Cover Records. The main difference with these songs compared to their older stuff is that every member of the band wrote their own parts. It was usually Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald writing everything before. Here you can listen to Ian Farmer's insane bass lines (like on "Revenge of the Nameless Ranger") and Sean Huber's intrinsic feel for the drums (especially towards the end of "Infinity Exposed").
The cover art of this release was originally a photo taken by Jessica Flynn, a long time friend of the band. MoBo asked their friends to redraw the picture in crayon. They ultimately chose one drawn by Beau Brynes, who also drew the artwork for the "Revenge of the Nameless Ranger" and "The Thrash Particle" singles.
This EP still holds the true meaning behind the band: that it's all really kind of one big inside joke between the members. Look at the name of the EP for instance: "MoBo Presents: The Perfect Cast EP featuring Modern Baseball." They are obviously just humoring themselves. Jake Ewald can't get through an interview without laughing at the title of "Alpha Kappa Fall of Troy the Movie Part Deux (2 Disc Directors Cut)." Whether they play music for themselves as a joke or not, they understand that people connect with them on many levels. This is why the EP was released in the first place for a cost of "pay what you want" on the Lame-O Records bandcamp page.
As a big fan of Modern Baseball, I'd like to thank them for this gift. I am anxiously awaiting the new album and can't wait to see them in December with PUP, Jeff Rosenstock, and Tiny Moving Parts.