Modern Machines - 'Take It, Somebody!' (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Modern Machines

'Take It, Somebody!' (2006)


The Modern Machines may be one of the most immediately likable punk bands I've ever come across. There's a wonderfully Ramonesy nature to the group in that neither the vocalists nor musicianship are all that important the story, but rather it's the sum of the parts that makes it work. Call it chemistry or simply great songwriting, but the Modern Machines have it in spades.

There's a warm quality to "Take It , Somebody!", a combination of down to earth Midwestern charm and a classic rock'n'roll guitar sound that's impossible to hate. There's a none-too-subtle Replacements influence on hand, a little bit more ...Trash than Tim at times. Yet for all the nostalgic praise the Mats get these days, it still feels rare to find a young band that so faithfully follows in their footsteps. The anthemic but very human approach that Westerberg and Co. championed is clearly being taken on songs like "You're Getting Married" and the album opening "Get It Right." "Flash Infatuation" is as catchy an anthem as one could ever hope for. Its use of the "whoa" is unsurpassed in a year of releases by bonafide and established Whoa bands. Staying with that Twin Cities vibe, there's a messy Hüsker Dü feel to songs like "Elegy for Love" and "Pay Off the Hangman" (although given the context it sounds more like the Replacements trying to sound like Hüsker Dü, so we come back around to Sorry Ma... comparisons). The harmonica makes a welcome appearance on "'Cause I Do," a track with the slightest hint of a reggae backbone. It's somewhat out of step with the band's influences but fits well enough.

The nice thing about the Modern Machines is that there's very little to grasp. That's a compliment, by the way. A track like "(Can't Let You) Slip Through My Hands" isn't terribly complex by any means, but there's certainly something to be said for succinct little punk songs. Even a song like "Road I Didn't Take," which is vocally a few notches out of tune, makes it on charm alone. "Take It, Somebody!" is nominally a 25-minute record and plays like one. It ends up tipping the half-hour mark thanks to the final song, a sleepy acoustic ballad by the name of "Treadmill Waltz." It's a nice enough tune but wisely sequenced, as the 5-minute running time would kill the pace of the record if it was placed anywhere else.

The Modern Machines are a refreshingly unrefined, fun as hell little punk rock band. If you're the slight bit sick of the grandiose concepts and self-important epics being churned out by the more popular modern punk acts, this is the antidote.