4 to Watch: Modern Skirts

Music Features Modern Skirts

Hometown: Athens, Ga.
Members: [L-R] Jay Gulley (guitar/lead vocals), Phillip Brantley (bass/guitar/vocals), JoJo Glidewell (piano/vocals), John Swint (drums)
Fun Fact: The band’s debut album was mixed by John Keane, who’s worked with R.E.M., The Indigo Girls and Uncle Tupelo.
Why They’re Worth Watching: The Drive-By Truckers have taken the band under their wing and invited them to open one-off shows for them outside of Athens, and the band is selling out famous local venue The 40 Watt. The Skirts also are a Paste office fave to a ridiculous extent, with their debut spinning almost constantly.
For Fans of: Ben Folds, The Beatles, The Shins

The anecdote has already reached epic proportions among members of the Modern Skirts. Chances are it’s been embellished to make the tongue-tied culprit look even more bumbling and awkward (thereby easier to give hell to), but it plays something like this: Last fall after a concert in which the Skirts opened for local Athens rock legend Pylon, two guys named Michael Stipe and Chris Martin approach Jay Gulley, the Skirts’ lead singer. Stipe coolly remarks, “I’ve heard good things about your band.” To which Gulley replies, after a pause, “I’ve heard good things about your band, too.”

Phillip Brantley, the group’s primary bassist (they switch instruments a good bit onstage) and the relater of this particular tale, makes no attempt to conceal his amusement at the encounter or his giddiness over the presence of the audience members in question: “I can’t even believe they came out. It blows my mind.”

This is just one of a plethora of exciting things happening for an Athens, Ga., band that’s got the potential—nay, the goods—to explode in the same way the Drive-By Truckers have in the past couple years.

The Skirts are all country boys who grew up in small rural Georgia towns but have developed astonishing pop sensibilities—wildly inventive melodies and arrangements slapped atop jubilant, exuberantly catchy piano-and-guitar rockers. It’s a formula for bliss. The songwriting prowess evident on their self-released debut, Catalogue of Generous Men, portends good things to come. Maybe even a record deal. Brantley adds, “We’re really making a concerted effort to be patient.” Sure, patience is a virtue, but we’ve got a hunch they won’t have to exercise it long.

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