The many flavors Mr. Payday: Welcome to the Modern World

The many flavors Mr. Payday:  Welcome to the Modern World

Welcome to the Modern World

Know thyself! When speaking with Doug Vizthum, the guitarist and lead singer of Mr. Payday, he described the band as power-pop with punk rock sensibilities. I have to say, I can offer no better description. The band’s latest release, Welcome to the Modern World, is a 10-song compendium in line with the best American power-pop acts from the 80’s. However, there are also wonderful streaks and strains from the punk bands you all know and love. It’s as if Rhino records had released a power-pop compilation where every song is a gem, but then threw in a couple Sugar/Husker Du, Devo, and even Mudhoney tunes for good measure!
One of the things that jumps out when listening to the release is that the mix is spot-on. The songs were lovingly recorded and mixed by Mike Moebius at Moonlight Mile in Hoboken, NJ. The vocals are solidly in key, the instruments all are in the right place. The feel of the mix is great! That may seem silly to mention, but without this, the songs would lose their power, charm, and luster. These are songs meant for a wider audience than just the jaded hipster. So, solid vocals and proper balance in the instrumentation is integral in making this release a success.
The other thing that really caught my attention was the flow of the release. There is a lot of job-sharing in this band. Everybody in the band sings lead. Tom DiEllo (bass) tackles Sun Shine Down, Nick D’Amore (drums) handles Set To Automatic, and Caroline Feinman (keys) sings Written in Stone and Welcome to the Modern World. Doug belts out the remaining six tunes. One would think that with all those voices, the songs could seem disjointed or foreign from each other. Far from it! There is a great consistency in the music and the variety of voices only widens the spectrum.
OK… so let’s get to the songs!
The first three: The band starts the CD by getting their ya ya’s out on Club Test. Full of energy, and a slight tip-o’-the-hat to Mony Mony. The song jumps in and then, in the blink of an eye, jumps right back out. Remember… punk rock sensibilities. Payday then dives in to two mid-tempo power-pop numbers: Now and Forever and Broken Wing. These two songs have the structure and sensibility one would expect from power-pop greats like the Beat, Plimsouls, or the Nerves. Broken Wing has a vocal quality that is reminiscent of Bob Mould a-la Sugar. Both songs are a blast, with strong choruses and a lot of drive.
The next four: At first blush, Set To Automatic seems to be an homage to Devo, with its Moog infusion and staccato riffs. That is, until the chorus kicks in. It’s as if Mudhoney showed up to kick Devo off the stage and take over for the chorus. Fantastic! Track five is the most “accessible” track, Written In Stone. I was struck by the vocals. They are vulnerable, but by no means weak. The guitar line has a little of a Latin vibe and is very tasty. Track six, Sun Shine Down, is classic rock-a-rolla with a slinky slide guitar and tasty chorus. The next track, End of the Day, swings us back in to power-pop territory with another mid-tempo winner. The chorus is really strong and is a lot of fun.
The last three: Tracks eight and nine infuse more of the aforementioned punk sensibilities. Tongue was placed firmly in cheek for Nazi Beer. Great lyrics, with appropriate country twang applied. A lot of saucy slide guitar as well. Track nine, Double Barrel, feels sooooo good. Anybody who has ever had the misfortune of driving the Garden State will know how these lyrics came to be. This song could have been sabotaged by keys, but they are mixed to add meat to the riff. Well done, Mike Moebius! The last track, Welcome to the Modern World is a nice coda to the release, a great song with an appropriately-timed political bend.
Mr. Payday set out to present a CD that shows their skills, strength, humor, and versatility. I would say they succeeded on all fronts. Do yourself a favor and go to their Bandcamp page and check it out. The release date is August 25th.
To celebrate the release, Mr. Payday is playing Pino’s in Highland Park, NJ on August 26th. Helping them celebrate the release are the bands Dentist, Atom Driver, and Sux. Should be one hell of a show! The show is free and all ages as well. So…. No excuses.


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