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CESAREO GARASA: Old Wives tale? Far from it with new EP

In the video for Modern Wives' single "Effortlessly Sly," the band is seen performing at the Mechanics Bank Convention Center alone on stage with no audience watching, having the time of their lives. They've earned it.

The band's latest, a six-song EP with the so-emo-it-hurts title "You Are My Everything/Everything Falls Apart," is the sound of an adroit band coming to terms with itself. The EP will be released on May 4 through Killer Kern Records in a variety of colored vinyl options including Effortlessly Pink, Modern White (ha!) and the scrumptious Violet Kerosene Swirl, which looks like a grape frozen treat.

A few days later, on May 7, the group will perform at the Fox Theater for its "Live Stream Vaccine: The Second Dose" streaming concert series.

There's a refined elegance to the EP, from the solemn album design by guitarist Raul Gallardo (who also did the superb art design for their previous releases) to the songs themselves. There aren't a lot of frayed edges here. The EP's intensity comes from the power of their players filtered through years of performances on stages at bars, churches and, well, the Mechanics Bank Convention Center.

While songs like "Effortlessly Sly" and "So Special" are full of energy and at times whiplash-inducing shifts in feel, the best song on the EP is the lovely six-minute closer "Slow Death (The Dancer From Huntington)," which slides from wistfully dreamy to menacing with the encroaching dread of an inevitable comedown. The sprawling "Time Enough at Last" is a close second with its refrain of "We will always want more time" sounding simultaneously hopeful and defeated.

"'Slow Death' is actually a sequel to a Farewell Spacecadet song," said guitarist and singer Dan Thompson about the early aughts band he and Gallardo were both in. "Raul wrote a song on Farewell Spacecadet's last record called 'Sometime Sunday' and at the time he was dating a girl, she was young but she had Huntington's disease (an involuntary movement disorder)."

"The full scientific name of the disease is Huntington's chorea, and chorea means 'dance' so that's where 'The Dancer From Huntington' comes from. It's a fictional retelling of the same relationship with her further gone into her illness."

And where bassist Gary Rink changed the band's trajectory with his contributions to the band's second album, 2019's "Lust is a Monster" (and his composition "Gare Bear"), the addition of singer Maddie Enriquez gives the group a different identity in the four songs she sings.

"We all loved what she did and her interpretations of the melodies," Thompson said. "Having played with her for years at church (at Resurrection Church along with drummer Tyler Patterson), I knew that she could belt. I knew she had a rock voice in her. 'Effortlessly Sly' was originally me singing but I knew that she could do it. She's a better singer than I am, period."

It's Patterson's muscular and sensitive drumming and ear for song structure and arrangement that's the glue that holds the songs together. He also managed to achieve a truly fantastic drum sound thanks to Josh Burns who tracked them.

"You Are My Everything/Everything Falls Apart" finds Modern Wives' music and the members themselves (both as musicians and as individuals in their thirties and forties) at a unique crossroads where their passion, vigor, instincts and maturity intersect.

Going live with Adema

Even though its members haven't performed together as a complete unit in over a year, Adema, the resilient world-famous rock band with local roots, is confidently riding an escalating wave of momentum.

The band is currently working on a new album that's its first since the 2013 EP "Topple the Giants'' and the first with frontman Ryan Shuck. They've been slyly teasing it on social media a few seconds here and few seconds there, revealing a revised but familiar darker, dynamic, melodic sound that's reminiscent of Killing Joke.

The group will be hosting a Live Session virtual concert on Friday, April 16 at 5 p.m.. It will be the band's second livestream show (their previous one was last August) but their first with bassist Dave DeRoo who couldn't make the last one because he was laid out with COVID-19.

The group will be performing at The Den in Los Angeles with a professional light, camera and sound setup.

"It's a great setup," DeRoo said. "Professional cameras, lighting, the whole thing. It looks nice."

Ticket prices range from $10 for general admission to a $90 VIP that promises a lot of goodies and a Zoom meet-and-greet. The group will also be playing new material from their upcoming album.

This show is an optimal way for fans of the band from around the world to see them live without having to leave home. It's a technological conceit that took a pandemic to force many musicians to make the long-needed evolutionary leap into the digital age.

"Oh, there's no doubt," DeRoo said. "It's definitely made everyone rethink the business model. Like anything else in life there are positives and negatives but, honestly, things look like they're going to start opening up. I can kinda see the light at the end of the tunnel."

For more information, visit Adema's Facebook or Instagram pages or sessionslive.com/adema/tickets.

Contributing columnist Cesareo Garasa brings you The Lowdown on local music and entertainment every other Thursday.