It’s hard to find guys who can play in a rock band without sounding like they’re playing the gig of their lives from the summit of Everest, an attempt to be heard by every soul on the planet. Too bad they never figured out what Canadian band Of Gentlemen and Cowards has learned: after some serious hard work, luck, and professional setbacks (has your band been deported from a cruise ship because you didn’t play jazz? Didn’t think so), you might wind up with great songs. Fortunately, their new album Modern Jukebox is full of them.
The singalong chorus and rippling guitar line of “Make it On Your Own” might get stuck in your head for days, which is fine by the band. “One Square” portrays the social consciousness of youth with persuasive rhythm and pounding drums. “Joe Jackson” shows the band’s range with a blistering outro, and lyrical and musical hooks that would make the namesake musician proud.
This is subtle, soulful rock. Throw in some Band of Horses, a dash of The Killers, and a twist of Kings of Leon, and you’ve got a sublime set of songs that say something, without sounding heavy-handed.