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Model Citizens - Dissonant, But Polyrhythmic

Posted on July 29 2016

In 1979, holding freshly minted MFAs and enamored with the intimate musical performances of people such as Laurie Anderson and Phillip Glass, the members of Model Citizens came together to create a performance art project. Initially the aim was to find "a more direct interaction with the audience, as well as a form of expression that was more visceral and a bit less cerebral (and more fun)," says Steve Alexander. So with the men dressed for jobs on Wall Street and the women dressed in high fashion, Model Citizens entered the punk scene looking to capitalize on its rock club energy, and connect art to audience.

Their music was loud, fast, and dissonant. They took delight in energetically spasmodic time signatures*, and delivered an intensely anxious performance.


Model Citizens have only one EP to their name, one that came to be produced by John Cale and released on his own label, SPY Records. Not something many small, mostly forgotten NYC acts can say for themselves.

That EP brought them to the attention of Warner Brothers Records who eventually offered the band a promising deal. Unfortunately for us, some internal logic on the part of Warner caused the deal to fall through; the band saw this as a sign to move on to other projects and did. Model Citizens only lasted one year.


The two most notable bands to rise from the ashes of Model Citizens are The Dance, a funky, post-punk act that had a few releases and found moderate success; and Polyrock, a post-punk/new wave band that was produced by Phillip Glass. Not a bad rebound on either account, but a loss nonetheless for those of us who wish there was more Model Citizens music to go around


*Steve Alexander Interview Quotes from "Music Blog of Saltyka and His Friends."

Christina Bottego