Release Date: Jun 21, 2011
Record label: Modern Art
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The Chain Gang of 1974 might be the biggest misnomer of a band name to have ever existed. First of all, the music has nothing to do with backbreaking spirituals that prisoners who are cracking open rocks in a field with pickaxes might sing. Secondly, the year 1974 has nothing to do with anything you’ll find on Wayward Fire, either; in fact, the sounds of this one-man band—Denver’s Kamtin Mohager—instead recalls the work of ‘80s synth-pop bands like New Order, the Psychedelic Furs, OMD and on and on and on.
On his group the Chain Gang of 1974's debut full-length CD, Wayward Fire, bandleader Kamtin Mohager continues his love affair with British synthesized dance-pop of the mid-'80s. It would be an interesting, if slightly sneaky trick to place a couple of songs from the album in the mix on a radio station devoted to the music of the '80s. Listeners would recognize that the songs fit the format, but as they heard, say, "Devil Is a Lady," they might find themselves at first thinking it was some obscure track by the Human League, albeit with a vocal sounding a bit like Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears.
The Chain Gang of 1974 is the kind of band name that is so obviously apropos of nothing that it pretty much begs to be met head-on. So let's just get some painfully obvious housekeeping out of the way: Kamtin Mohager's glossy synth-pop project sounds absolutely nothing like a chain gang and even less like 1974. Instead, the album stresses familiarity, easy nostalgia, and an eagerness to please, laying down its dividing lines like the "80s Night" at your local undergrad bar: If you can somehow find novelty in that sort of thing in 2011, you'll have yourself a blast, whereas anyone who thinks the decade had more to offer than doing tequila shots to "Hungry Like the Wolf" while Pretty in Pink plays in closed captioning are gonna feel like killjoys through no real fault of their own.
Propulsion is a word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to music. Well, maybe not the exact word, but its synonyms certainly do. Whether an album is “forceful” or maintains “momentum” make or break certain releases. The Chain Gang of 1974’s new album, Wayward Fire, is propulsive ….