There's something in the indie music kool aid these days. So many releases take tribal sounds as a reference point: Panda Bear, Dirty Projectors, and in this case the Baltimore trio Celebration, whose sophomore effort is aptly named The Modern Tribe.
Rhythm is the tribal reference in this case. Each track is set to a swift tempo and features lots of layered syncopated beats as in a furiously paced "Pony," or the more shimmery "Pressure." Add a choir, flute, bass clarinet, tenor sax, guitar, Moog pedal bass, and all sorts of keyboards to the percussive mix, and the result is a post-modern romp into the unconscious.
Lead singer Katrina Ford's vocals are searing, forceful and distinct. She's a percussionist for the group as well, and she sings almost as if her voice were one of those instruments she plays, although one that can also slur, wail, and vibrato.
Saying that The Modern Tribe has a full sound would be an understatement. More than 25 people are listed as guest musicians and there's not a moment of quietude or even much down tempo to be found.
What could turn into a sloppy mess or a jarring cacophony is surprisingly pleasant on the ears. The layers all fit and build off one another creating a cascade collage of blissful sound.
One of my favorite tracks is "Heartbreak," which starts out pretty subdued with organ and vocals that slowly fill out then arch with horns joining for a sudden turn. With all the twists and shifts, this anthem is an epic at only 4 minutes and 39 seconds.
I really haven't heard anything quite like this. About the only musical comparison I can make is to the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, a band that Celebration toured with, but this has more to do with the two lead singers than the music itself.
The Modern Tribe is perfect for an adrenaline kick, but it's more than just that. These songs are also about connecting inwardly, and most certainly about ecstasy.