The Modern Rogues - The Inside Sessions EP
By their own blurb The Modern Rogues are an originals and covers band based in Swansea, South Wales inspired by folk, country rock and pop music. "The Inside Session" is their debut release and is something of a showcase for their skills, in fact on the evidence of this EP the Modern Rogues could be one of at least three or four different bands, such are the distinct styles on shpw.
First off and possibly the least interesting of their many incarnations is the hard rocking band fronting "Having A Good TIme". Make no mistake that is not to say it isn't good, there's a riff laden guitar intro that grabs the attention before the big drum sound kicks in. The vocals when they arrive, tell us of the after affects of a night out.
"I went out last night - I woke up on the floor - with my jeans and shirt hanging on the door
There's a bottle of Bud, calling my name and a pretty little thing on my mind driving me insane"
It's an attention grabbing opener and the chorus does give rise to some neat harmonies that will resurface to greater effect on later tracks.
"All Torn Up" is something completely different, with its a capella opening which then develops into a more acoustic harmony driven sound, that wears its British pop credentials proudly on its sleeve. This is the tale of someone on the wrong end of a break up
"On the day you left I broke my heart in two
Couldn't face the day - without you loving me
I should've know by the way you looked at me
when you drove on by - with another guy in the passenger seat!"
There's no denying that that the song has a cracking chorus but at times lyrically, like the final two lines above things seem a little weak. The question posed later in the second verse also seems to answer itself, as he ponders why she might have left.
"or did you get bored of a simple life in a simple town?"
The elements of a great punchy song are there, the musicianship the lead vocals and the harmonies - it just needs the lyrics to be beefed up a bit.
"Home" is another change of pace, with an acoustic guitar leading the way as the lead singer ponders on the trials of being separated, the pain and frustrations that it brings.
"What's a man gotta do? You know I haven't got a clue
when they stop me seeing all the ones I hold here in my heart?"
The exact cause of this separation is never quite explained, I'd assume it was referring to Covid restrictions however it could probably equally apply to someone in prison or maybe even in the Armed Forces. There are little flourishes of guitar and percussion that add to the overall sound and there is no doubting the conviction in the singing or the beauty in the backing harmonies
"Thinking About It" sees yet another side to the band with the arrival of a brass section as The Modern Rogues take out their frustrations of a hum drum day to day existance where they are overworked and under appreciated.
As with "All Torn Up" there is great musicianship, the punchy percussion working well with the clipped brass sound
"I'm gonna grab my truck and hit the highway - say goodbye do it my way
Won't look back won't ask forgiveness - It;s not bad luck it's just good business
My Boss has pushed me to my limit, I wish I could give him a ticket
For wasting my time, it's making me smile - just thinking about it!!"
The bridge delivers a nice change of pace and the crux of the song
i think I should pack my things and go - get out and hit the open road
I grab the keys come on let's go - get out and drive away"
There is a section where the lyrics are sung as if phoned in, which would not be bad but for the same effect having been used on the opening track. It's sung with power and conviction, yet a bit like "All Torn Up" the lyrics seems to be in need of a tweak to discover the better song trying to escape
The EP closes with "When You're Young", which is a kind of Dylan meets Del Amitri, it's just an acoustic guitar and vocals but it comes with some neat touches and certainly attempts to make some points to make the listener think. One of those bits that elevate this song occurs in the chorus
"But time goes slow, when you are young speeds-up-with-age" - the last 4 worrds delivered at breakneck speed before reaching the conclusion "Nothing really matters when you're young".
It's a song that is broad in scope as it tries to take in the different ages of man. The first verse deals with childhood memories - a where literally "nothing really mattered", By the second verse the singer is now a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, and the adventures are the exhuberances of youth, driving a car and starting a band or at least trying to.
By 19 he meets a girl who becomes his wife and we fast forward to the age of 30 where he admits to having "everything that matters"
The final verse sees a flash forward to old age but lyrically it gets a little confusing, at one moment he doesn't have the strength to stand on my two feet" and yet conversely he finds "their crazy life improves every day". The observation is that time has "slowed down with age" and that "nothing matters now i'm growing old" is a little bleak and doesn't ring with the same conviction of the earlier verses however that quibble aside it remains a powerful piece of writing.
It's an EP with many positives and I'm sure The Modern Rogues will go on to greater things, they are clearly a tight band with an abilty for great harmonies