"Changing Modes Add to Their Legacy As One of the Great New York Bands"
Quick: who’s the best rock songwriter in New York? Wendy Griffiths of Changing Modes is on the shortlist, no question. Quietly and efficiently, the keyboardist/bassist and her artsy, new wave-flavored band have put out a series of bitingly lyrical, wickedly catchy albums, all of which are streaming at Spotify. They’ve got a new one, The Paradox of Traveling Light, their sixth full-length album, due out momentarily and a release show at 9 PM on July 19 at Bowery Electric. Much as Changing Modes have made a name for themselves for elegant arrangements and shapeshifting tunes, they’re great fun live. Griffiths may be unsurpassed at creating a nonchalantly menacing ambience, but onstage she’s full of surprises, and the band feeds off her energy.
She also has a devious sense of humor, and that’s in full effect from the first few beats of Timur Yusef’s garage-rock drum intro on the album’s opening track, Dinosaur. A trickily rhythmic piano-pop song, it could be a snarky commentary on trendoids, or the human race in general on the fast track to the apocalypse. Griffiths’ scream on the way out is classic, Jello Biafra-class evil.
She works a neon luridness on the second track, Red, one of a handful of guy/girl duets here with the stagy-voiced Vincent Corrigan. The two spar and threaten each other over a punkish guitar-driven backdrop that brings to mind vintage X. The band follows that with the moody, Siouxsie-esque new wave anthem Give Up the Ghost, Griffiths and co-keyboardist Grace Pulliam shifting shades up to an expansive but purposeful Yuzuru Sadashige guitar solo.
The guy sings Sycamore Landing, an elegantly troubled 6/8 piano ballad that would fit perfectly in the Neil Finn catalog. In June alternates between a bouncy but creepy pulse and lingering atmospherics, a rich study in contrasts that might be a breakup song…or it might be about a suicide. That’s what makes Griffiths’ songwriting so interesting: she never hits anything head on, always drawing the listener into the mystery.
The one cover here is Black & Grey, a surprisingly solid, pensive song by otherwise lightweight quirk-pop band the Dream Bitches. Jeanine is the most lighthearted song here, and it’s not the first one the band has done about a cat. Fly morphs from macabre to wryly hilarious (Yusef gets the punchline), a bitter suburban escape anthem. Ride keeps the menacing chromatics going over a brisk new wave pulse, Griffiths’ venomous lyric driven to a crescendo by a snarling Sadashige guitar solo.
Lately takes an unlikely blend of spacerock lyrics and a brisk, surfy, organ-fueled groove and makes it all work: it seems to be a death-in-space scenario. The album ends with Sadashige’s pensive Triangle Heart, an understatedly dark ballad that shifts tempos all the way through to a funereal, tremoloing Griffiths organ solo that perfectly caps off this troubled and sometimes wrenchingly beautiful album, a strong contender for best of 2014.
delarue - New York Music Daily (Jul 15, 2014)
released July 19, 2014
1. DINOSAUR (Griffiths/Oromaner)
02. RED (Griffiths)
03. GIVE UP THE GHOST (Griffiths)
04. SYCAMORE LANDING (Griffiths)
05. IN JUNE (Griffiths)
06. BLACK AND GREY (Kikuchi)
07. JEANINE (Griffiths)
08. FLY (Griffiths)
09. RIDE (Griffiths)
10. LATELY (Griffiths)
11. TRIANGLE HEART (Sadashige)
Vincent Corrigan, vocals on tracks 2, 4 & 10
Duane Harper Grant, guitar on track 8
Songs arranged by Changing Modes
Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 recorded & mixed at the Cutting Room Studios, New York City, June - October 2013
Recorded, mixed & co-produced by Jason Cummings
Tracks 4, 10 & 11 recorded & mixed at the Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn, New York, January 2014.
Recorded & mixed by Charles Burst
Mastered by Fred Kevorkian
Album cover design & photographs by Yuzuru Sadashige
Band photograph by Duane Harper Grant
Origami stars by Heather Ganfer
Origami dinosaurs by Yuzuru Sadashige
All Songs by Wendy Griffiths/Plague of Twins Productions (ASCAP)
except Dinosaur by Wendy Griffiths & David Oromaner/Plague of Twins Productions (ASCAP),
Triangle Heart by Yuzuru Sadashige/Plague of Twins Productions (ASCAP),
Black & Grey by Yoko Kikuchi/Dream Bitches
Produced by Wendy Griffiths & Yuzuru Sadashige
Special Thanks to:
Sylvia Griffiths, The Sadashige family, Don Lawrence, Duane, Hsia-Jung, Jeffrey Jacobson,
David, Ben, Don Fast, Vin, Harumi, Anthony, Willy, Yoko, Louise Neko
Changing Modes leap from one radically dissimilar style to another with gusto, guile and a tunefulness that won’t quit.
Blending classical flourishes, punk energy, playful and clever lyrics that draw on 80s new wave and a ubiquitous element of surprise, every time you think you’ve got them figured out, they drop something new on you." -Lucid Culture...more