Jake Johnston and Josh Montag want to bring back the sentiment of what albums "should be" to the Arizona scene. They recruited nearly 30 vocalists and musicians to play on their sophomore album, Modern Repair, on which the bassist and drummer asked their guest singers what they'd like to see differently in the world and how they'd like to sing about it, and collaborated from there. The result is a diverse album featuring dozens of viewpoints on how to make the planet a better place, in regards to politics, race relations, environmental issues and more.
"This album is supposed to be listened to front to back, like good vinyl, and when done so, I feel the listener gets the most back from the album," says Johnston, who plays bass in the band that formed in 2013. "I feel people should check out the new album Modern Repair if they are a fan of local Arizona musicians, new tasty music, and what albums used to be."
The disc features cameos from Valley standouts including Treasurefruit, The Wiley Ones, The Hourglass Cats, Fairy Bones, Captain Squeegee and Ruca, plus a string quartet from the Phoenix Symphony. The jam-packed first single, "Every Race at the Finish Line," includes Pride Through Strife, Jay Nottingham, and Deejay P-Phunk, showcasing a variety of styles in just one song.
Even more diversity will be on hand for the album release show Friday, September 18, at Last Exit Live in Phoenix, when nearly all the album's musicians will play live for attendees, who will each receive a copy of the album, featuring artwork and lyrics. HotRock SupaJoint opens the concert, with Captive Cooks closing out the night. Montag, who plays drums, says he's pleased with the album's outcome, and he hopes the music can inspire positivity, just like he's been inspired by bands such as Rx Bandits, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Bob Marley, and Dispatch.
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"They have such a way of spreading a positive message on how to be a good person, and we hope to do the same," says Montag. "We wanted to make an album that has a strong message to it, something that people can relate to and be inspired to do better by — you know, like peace, love and other hippie stuff."
After the release of their debut, A Collective Agreement, Montag adds he was excited to have artists approach Scattered Melodies in hopes of collaborating on this disc, while the duo chose other musicians they admired and felt could help spread a positive message. A returning artist, Anamieke Quinn of Treasurefruit, calls their collaboration “Research and Destroy," a song they worked on with Tom Kumagai, a "think for yourself" reminder.
"It’s a message that knowledge is power and that the picture is almost always bigger than one can imagine," says Quinn. "I hope people will be reminded that they are constantly being inundated with propaganda from all sides, no matter how subtle, and it’s their job to sift through the garbage and discover what they believe to be the truth, rather than rely on a cultural context to dictate it for them."
Johnston and Montag say the live show will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, since it's not quite an easy task to get so many local musicians together in one night.
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"The show is going to be a great experience for the musicians and audience alike," Johnston says. "Lots of great people will be coming together, either playing or enjoying the show. Since this album came about by having our friends and peers join us in the studio, we figured what better way to celebrate then getting together again on stage to play it, because who knows how much of this album will get to be played again on stage."
Watch the band's trailer for the album below.