Save Ferris - Modified (retro review) (Cover Artwork)

Save Ferris

Modified (retro review) (1999)

Epic Records

1999 marked the beginning of the quick extinction of the mainstream ska band, with saxophone players struggling to score a near-by moog, or trombone players simply left practicing their best air guitar-trombone. Orange County's Save Ferris were no exception, honing in their best efforts at catchy, pop punk tunes with the appropriately titled Modified.

Guitarist and songwriter Brian Mashburn accepted the challenge, and Modified fired open with the infectious and bubble gum pop punk of "Turn It Up," a hopeful opener riddled with synth and other fun post production. "The Only Way To Be" took the other approach to keep a ska band relevant headed towards Y2K, with nods to Sublime or No Doubt, who would continue to sell records for a much longer amount of time. "I'm Not Cryin' For You" finally introduced the record to some standard ska, with an empowering chorus and lead vocal duty from front-woman Monique Powell. Powell's deep command of the vocals continued into a great pop number with "Your Friend," blending dissonant horn lines on top of grungy guitars.

"No Love" would slow the album to a halt, and provide a charming slower rock-steady jam, showcasing Powell's incredible range and tone. "Angry Situation" would be a killer moment on the record, and showcase perhaps the highest peak of the band's songwriting. Offering aggressive dirty ska chords, acrobatic horn-lines, and more top-notch lead vocals. "What You See Is What You Get" would be the closest the band would touch on their previous success in 1997's It Means Everything, blending catchy two-tone ska with some Motown hooks. "One More Try" would see the band at their most experimental to date, mixing stringed instruments with drum loops into a one minute interlude. It perfectly bridged the gap between the Ferris of then and now.

"Mistaken" will go down as the moment Mashburn would perfect Save Ferris' pop punk sound, finally cracking the code between drum tempo, guitar leads, and an excellent song structure. "Holding On" provided a bit more horn-work and some doo-wops, and certainly introduced the outro of Modified with the slow, six minute build behind "Let Me In." Those who knew the drill in the late nineties to scope out a potential extra track were fortunate, as the coinciding secret "title track" of the album would breathe subtle foreshadows of the (original) band's ultimate demise, and to some fantastic pop punk.

Four of Save Ferris' founding members would go on to start Starpool just a year later, as Powell would continue to use the Save Ferris moniker to this day, but neither project would ever carry the same talent and relatable song writing found in Modified.