For as many people (especially bombastic media personalities) who’ve made a monkey of themselves in the COVID climate, we’d like to think that just as many, if not more, have done a lot of growing up instead. In the past three years we’ve seen a ton of such success stories, and today we’re commending the hurdle-topping turnaround of Josh Blair.
Even before the start of the pandemic, this New Hampshire singer-guitarist had already lost a friend to substance abuse and endured strains in his romantic relationship. When Blair began traveling the nation in a short bus at the height of lockdown conditions, he had plenty of time to reflect on his musical path leading up to this period of dejection; he’d been a punk drummer as a juvenile before graduating into bassist and guitarist for a hip-hop/psych/rockabilly outfit. But in this newfound, fragile mindset, Blair didn’t quite resonate with the overtly downtrodden discourse of many punk lyrics nor the slapdash style-over-substance approach of his subsequent cross-genre project. Instead Josh Blair turned to the matured wisdom of blue buckaroos like Townes Van Zandt and Hank Williams, and in doing so laid the groundwork for Modern Fools.
Rather than split the difference by going straight to cowpunk or psychobilly, Modern Fools embraces the timelessness of classic crybaby country as Blair’s first foray into bandleading and songwriting. Blair recruited longtime buds Justin Gregory and Jon Braught to record Modern Fools’ 2020 debut Seer – albeit completely separate due to COVID restrictions – and tomorrow, with the addition of Ian Galipeau, Modern Fools unfurls their formalization as a four-piece.
The quartet tracked their magnificent sophomore album Strange Offering together in Blair’s home studio, and that sense of unity really ratchets up the caliber of these forlorn originals. These ten gloomy cosmic country tunes arrive bright and early tomorrow, so be sure to set some time aside this weekend to appreciate Strange Offering in full. And if you want to open up the contemporary-tinged, vintage-inspired waterworks early, “Wasting” is where you wanna be. Like admiring the slow slip of sunlight into a distant horizon, “Wasting”‘s languid trot, softly-howled harmonies, stoic lyrics, sanguine song structure, and abrupt heartbreak of a final chord – all at just over five minutes – is by no means a misuse of your time.