"...[Purple Mountains] It's just a really good example of contrast, it's so funny, yet so dark, and so horrifying. It's a combination of all these disparate elements. I think that's an important thing for us as a band. We have a sense of humour despite making dark music."
A band that could fall under a hell of a lot of labels, Model/Actriz are the latest buzz band to break through the blazing volume of the noise-rock umbrella and catch our attention here at Rough Trade.
The Brooklyn-based musicians are currently riding high on the success of their debut full-length Dogsbody (out in February 2023 via True Panther) and their formidable live show reputation. Finding a fan in Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten who describes their live energy as 'just crazy and fucking cool', it is true that this is an album with a raw, driving energy, a punk edge brought to the dance floor, yet a far cry from the electro-pop sounds of NYC indie sleaze. With their Nine Inch Nails-esque pummeling beats, transhuman machinery and a thematic focus on lust and sexuality (admire the ceramic dildo centre of a cosmic looking chasm) Model/Actriz explore a much more hedonistic aesthetic - the drama and theatrics of hyperpop, yet which much grittier and starker soundscapes.
As the distinguished group made their rounds of the UK live scene on tour this November, we were lucky enough to have the whole band stop by Rough Trade East, in the wake of their headline London show at Fabric. Up for a spot of rack raiding, the band also left us with the gift of a limited crop of signed LPs, the limited white vinyl edition of the phenomenal Dogsbody.
Model/Actriz are Cole Haden, Jack Wetmore, Ruben Radlauer and Aaron Shapiro. The Brooklyn quartet share some eclectic selects from our racks, a snapshot of which have been important to their sound inspiration and story so far...
Jack: This is one of my favourite records of all time. It's one of his most creative records ever. It was a zone where he got this crazy sound, and the movements. It's more pop songwriting with this. It is an endless record. The last song on it, Anywhere I Lay My Head, is one of the most beautiful endings to a record I've ever heard.
Aaron: This is a record I followed since the singles were getting released, after my friend Alexi turned me on to it. I went back and started listening to Silver Jews after this. This record for me was kind of the start of listening to David Berman (Silver Jews, Purple Mountains). I picked it because I feel it's just a really good example of contrast, it's so funny, yet so dark, and so horrifying. It's a combination of all these disparate elements. I think that's an important thing for us as a band. We have a sense of humour despite making dark music.
"It's also really a New York record for me. It feels really good walking around in Manhattan, in the winter to a record like this."
Ruben: This is an album that I grew up listening to in the car and just accepted it as what normal pop music sounds like. I then didn't revisit it until adulthood and I was shocked at how bizarre and twisted it is compared to what I now think of as pop music. The tracks switch between unlistenable cringe and really beautiful, sometimes in the same moment. It's an interesting combination of the historical and the personal, and to see that landscape unfold within this one album.
Cole: This is Kylie's most recent album but picking this is more symbolic of my total infatuation with her entire career. She has upheld the ability for her listeners to not be distracted by a kind of cult of personality around her and she's got a very clean slate as a pop artist. I think she might be one of the only people that if you go to see her show it feels more like a euphoric experience that you are sharing with everybody else. I just saw a pregnant Kylie impersonator in Manchester at a gay club. It was a test run on that theory because it was exactly as I imagined, just all of us singing her songs together. Off of this album, I would say Hold On To Now is my favourite song.
Cole: As our band project today, to pick an album that we all admire and enjoy we have chosen Björk's Post. I think this album has something for all of us to get out of it. This was the first album where the material was meant purely for her instead of some of the music on Debut which was meant for the Sugarcubes. I feel like we are actually getting to see Björk spring out into the world as herself here. I think what we all admire about Björk's work is her breadth and her storytelling. For me, I really love her conversational storytelling. You've Been Flirting Again and Possibly, Maybe are both songs that make you feel like your sitting alone in a room with someone just talking to you.
Aaron: As an add-on, shout out to the artists who are just un-relentlessly committed to the song and the emotion at the core of every one of their songs, but then are also willing to throw everything into the garbage disposal and experiment without sacrificing the song. It's scary to change, and the idea that Björk has been able to do that as a model, continuously, without compromising anything and still just making something every time, is just impressive.
Jack: This album was the first Björk album record I had ever heard and the first song I ever heard was It's Oh So Quiet and I thought it was the funniest, best song I had ever heard in my life. Then started the record with Army of Me, and was so blown away how both of those songs can exist on that record, and work so well. It's just great. I love it.