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    Soundtrack minds

    Headquarters puts its British-invasion chops to work on the theme music for the film "American Mod."


    "Never mind the movie; did you hear the soundtrack?"

    Charles Wallace (vocals, guitars)
    Arly Silver (guitars, vocals)
    Jay B. Flatt (bass, vocals)
    Mick Oliver (drums).

    Related links: Official site | "American Mod" movie site
    Cakewalk (theme from "American Mod")   RA
    Groove On Tight   RA
    Metamorphisun   RA
    © Headquarters. Used by permission.
    That could be said about many of the celluloid efforts of the psychedelic Sixties, which spawned a host of trippy soundtracks — many of them, like Pink Floyd's "More" and George Harrison's "Wonderwall Music," more famous than their films. Although the makers of the new indie short "American Mod" naturally hope that their film will make a name for itself, the seriously groovy, pitifully brief (clocking in at under 20 minutes) "Cakewalk: Original Soundtrack for the Film American Mod" (hear it here) threatens to enter more hearts and homes.

    The soundtrack marks the debut of the New York City band Headquarters, who were previously unknown except to the followers of New York Britpop dance parties like Tiswas. Like all good Mods, what Headquarters lacks in the resume department, it more than makes up for in the wardrobe department, with perfect Steve Marriott-cum-Paul Weller haircuts and Carnaby Street threads. Likewise, although they share their name with the Monkees album that topped the charts during the Summer of Love, they take their musical cues from the other side of the Atlantic.

    A true Modernist will tell you that the title "American Mod" is an oxymoron, because the term "Mod" cannot be separated from its working-class British origins. Likewise, there were only a few bands in the Sixties — like the early Who, Small Faces, and Action — who truly encapsulated true Mod style and attitude. Since then, some have expanded the Mod moniker to include psychedelic and freakbeat artists like the Move, late-Seventies Mod aspirants like the Jam, and, more recently, Mod-inspired Britpop acts like Supergrass, Blur, and even Oasis.

    The Mod scene is notoriously insular, which is why many local bands who play Mod-influenced music, like the Gripweeds and the Anderson Council, while appreciating the scene, are reluctant to fully identify themselves with it. Headquarters, conversely, wrap themselves in the Mod banner like the Who in the Union Jack.

    At first glance, Headquarters seem unlikely spokesmen for New York Mods, as their music and style is influenced more by the velvet-clad Swinging London holdouts of late-Sixties Britsploitation flicks like "The Touchables" than by the parka-wearing, scooter-riding masses of "Quadrophenia."

    Make that early Pink Floyd. Granted, Headquarters leader Charles Wallace has a more flexible voice than Syd Barrett, with a low, sexy baritone that evokes early Marc Bolan. Still, on tracks like "Groove on Tight," his trippy chord changes and surreal wordplay captures the feeling of the Floyd's earliest pop-psych. Conversely, the crunchy "Binoculars" has a sinister feel, recalling modern Floyd devotees the Soft Boys, but is laden with ear candy, like "Eight Miles High"-style guitars and super-creamy backing vocals. The reverb-soaked guitar on another highlight, "Candy Needs," borders on surf-psych, but with a stripped-down, back-porch arrangement like the Small Faces' "The Universal." Only "Cakewalk (Theme for an American Mod)" flops, borrowing too closely from Booker T. & The MGs' "Green Onions."

    Whether or not "American Mod" really will cause a rush on Vespa dealers, it has already earned a niche in New York City pop lore for bringing forth Headquarters. Put on "Cakewalk," close your eyes, and make your own paisley-patterned movie.

    MAY 19, 2001

    Reader comments on Headquarters:

  • HQ show review   from Richie, May 18, 2001
  • More bands like HQ!   from Jeremy, Jul 13, 2001
  • for more mod inspiration   from Pauly, Aug 26, 2001
  • better than MOD   from Kate, Mar 18, 2002
  • amazing   from caroline, Nov 18, 2002
  • they're back!!!   from Sharon, Jan 28, 2004
  • HQ Album   from Ian Hall, Mar 22, 2004
  • Re: HQ Album   from , Apr 13, 2004
  • Whatever happened to Arly Silver?   from Jane, Aug 26, 2004
  • Re: Whatever happened to Arly Silver?   from HQ, Dec 13, 2004

  • Post a comment on "Headquarters"