The Chain Gang of 1974 – Wayward Fire

written by: July 29, 2011
Release Date: June 21, 2011


It seems that the current generation of musicians may have found their distinct voice in dance punk. The place in which bands like She Wants Revenge failed, The Chain Gang of 1974 might have hit the nail on the head (and we can’t be sure if they even meant to) with Wayward Fire. If you can get past the band’s awkward name, you might see the freshest new blend of music to come out of Colorado since everyone and their local scene started gushing over Fear Before the March of Flames almost 10 years ago

Kamtin Mohager (lead man in The Chain Gang) is friends with the guys in 3OH3!, and has even been their stage bassist at times. But don’t be discouraged or put off from his music if you don’t like 3OH3!—The Chain Gang shares almost nothing in common with them and is actually a lot more appealing to people who aren’t so keen on a given band’s arguable love affair with Ke$ha.

This is because The Chain Gang of 1974 slips frenetically between rock, electro, dance and little bit of funk. It’s The Faint meets Passion Pit, sprinkled with hints of YACHT and a long-lasting aftertaste of authentic ’80s retro.

The Chain Gang’s album is just a love for synth-pop that has other instruments thrown into the mix at the right times. The combination of these two elements let you feel the tinny, clean synth instruments that give the ’80s feel, and the guitars and bass ground the songs with a small organic feel that reminds you you’re listening to humans playing with electronic toys, and not just machines.

You can feel the nostalgia and love for music in The Chain Gang’s songs; it’ll bring you back to when you first discovered something that wasn’t on the radio and thought you were the only person who knew about it.

The Chain Gang can get away with all this because songs like “Heartbreakin’ Scream” don’t sound like every other teenage poppy electronic band singing about relationships. In fact, The Chain Gang gives off more of a shoegaze vibe than anything else you might be expecting. If you’ve ever heard My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult’s “A Daisy Chain for Satan” (or any early ’80s industrial before things started to sound fast and frightening), you’ll hear the industrial sound that is very beat heavy and relies on adding layer after layer as the song goes on.

There’s also what feels like a strong homage to The Cure. “Matter of Time” sounds like “The Lovecats.” There is a thumping melody that also serves as bass at parts that is played by not just the fun and squawky synth, but the lead guitar as well.

The song’s retro feel peaks when it gets to the three-quarter mark and there’s a semi-breakdown and an almost overdramatic and nostalgic yet not-quite-there single note guitar part that takes the spotlight for a minute before the rest of the band comes back in and you can imagine hearing the song at the end of a teen movie.

But the album isn’t without its weak points. After a while the album does get a bit repetitive and some songs don’t seem all that worth it. By the time “Ethical Drugs” rolls around as track nine of 11, the listener understands that The Chain Gang can whip out a sick beat, sling some guitar hooks over it, throw a synth line or two under it all and make it sound pretty good.

The Chain Gang of 1974 Wayward Fire Tracklist:

  1. “Stop”
  2. “Devil Is a Lady”
  3. “Hold On”
  4. “Heartbreakin’ Scream”
  5. “Taste of Heaven”
  6. “Matter of Time”
  7. “Undercover”
  8. “Teenagers”
  9. “Ethical Drugs”
  10. “Tell Me”
  11. “Don’t Walk Away”