Charlie Megira and the Modern Dance Club, “Love Police” double LP
Much has been made of the demise of the album in today’s digital download approach to music. Much like the days of the ’50 and early ’60s, when the 45-rpm single was the delivery method of choise for boss tuneage, these days it’s all about the 99-cent download of Beyonce’s latest.
However, as physical product becomes more of a niche product, it seems that which is released in corporeal form is of a higher caliber, and more necessary of being considered as a whole. Such is what you have with the debut release on Guitars & Bongos, a double LP from Charlie Megira and the Modern Dance Club entitled Love Police.
The double LP is pressed on heavy-duty 180-gram vinyl, comes in a gatefold sleeve, and looks flippin’ gorgeous. But that’s just what you’re looking at and touching. What does it do when it comes in through your ear holes and creeps into your brain? Oh, this album does wonderful things to your brain, kids.
First of all, it’s incredibly sonically rich. The guitar tone’s so warm and full that you might as well be wrapped in a blanket with a cat on your lap as you’re listening. Even when ran through fuzz and distortion and played at blistering speed, Megira’s work on the guitar is the focus, and none of that audio fuckery will take away from the skill with which he runs up and down the frets.
The sonic blueprint for Love Police is slightly difficult to discern until you’ve gone through all four LP sides a couple times. There’s the connecting thread of surf rock, with a soupçon of Middle Easten influence (Megira does hail from Israel, after all), but that’s more of a narrative that’s used to take you to the real focus of the album.
Essentially, what Love Police ultimately ends up as is two albums blended together. You have the surf rock album, whioch is mostly instrumental. In a few cases the songs are only brief guitar line or melody, less than a minute long. This music is used to take the listener through the other album, which is a love letter to ’70s rock ‘n’ roll. The ’70s album trips through the influences of any proper rock ‘n’ roller: David Bowie, the MC5, the Stooges, and T.Rex.
The songs bring to mind these artists, without being direct cops from any specific songs. “(Used to Be…) Psychic Youth” sounds like Bowie in terms of pacing and certainly in terms of vocal delivery, but that guitar tone owes nothing to Mick Ronson, making it simultaneously familiar and new. It’s a wonderfully inventive way to showcase what Megira loves, without feeling like he’s playing dress-up in someone else’s clothes.
Would either of these albums work on their own – the surf instrumentals and the ’70s glam punk? Possibly, but it’s the inexorable intertwining of the two that makes Charlie Megira and the Modern Dance Club’s Love Police such a fascinating listen, and an album to which I keep returning over and over again, discovering new elements with each repeat trip.
You can buy the double LP direct from Guitars & Bongos. Do so, post-haste.