Uncut Modern Currencies

The name that immediately jumps out of Modern Currencies’ liner notes is — let’s just admit it — Melissa Auf Der Maur, who sings back-up on three tracks. This is telling, because the survivors of ’90s alt-rock seem to have passed the torch to groups like Uncut. Many rungs above Nickelback, black nail polish-free yet glossy enough to suit Edge 102.1 (that’s Toronto for "alienated teen rock radio”) audiences, Uncut’s latest walks the line between mainstream and indie: the band take material from the latter, then chisel and polish until it fits into the former category. Modern Currencies sees Uncut following their civic brethren (Death From Above 1979, Metric) into the rock arena, with prominent guitars, heavy production, chanted vocals and accessible melodies turning ’80s alternative-influenced songs into potential teen anthems. While the aforementioned chant-singing may be a little overwrought for cynics and the sound a little too pristine for listeners weaned on the same groups that Uncut were (the Jesus & Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr), there are moments — the riff on "Breaking Glass,” for instance — that break down the barriers. The general premise has been contested, but in this case at least, the label speaks for the band: if you enjoy a lot of Paper Bag Records’ output, you’ll probably enjoy this. If not, then you know the rest. (Paper Bag)