With new album, moe. hits Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
ASPEN – “What Happened to the LA LAs,” the latest album by moe., was released two weeks ago on Sugar Hill, an acoustic-music-oriented label that has been home to Nickel Creek, Sam Bush and Doc Watson. The album references the old-timey country ballad “Long Black Veil.” But for those who might have thought that moe. had traded its electric guitars and pounding drums for banjos and fiddles, those notions are dashed right off the bat – and continually throughout the 10-track album.
The five-piece band from upstate New York, which released its debut album, “Fatboy,” 20 years ago, kicks off “What Happened to the LA LAs” in relatively quiet fashion. But even in the opening prog-rock guitar notes of “The Bones of Lazarus,” you can feel something building. Sure enough, the drums join in with a funky Latin beat, and at the 43-second mark, it sounds like Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, the band’s two guitarists, both get the same idea at the same time: Hit a big, fat power chord at full volume.
From there, moe. is off and running. “Haze” also begins on the gentler side, with a mellow psychedelic beat about “wanting to get away / Somewhere new, something cool.” But when the chorus hits, the band is in full-on moe. mode – thrashing beats, curling guitar leads.
“What Happened to the LA LAs” finds moe. exploring many of its facets. In fact, the band touches on most all of those in the complex, nearly eight-minute “Downward Facing Dog,” which features blues-rock slide guitar, a country-ish chorus, a slow and spacey bridge, and some fancy wah-wah guitar work. The band, known for having a musical sense of humor, gets farthest out there on “Chronic Nightmare,” an instrumental waltz built around Jim Laughlin’s timpani playing. “One Way Traffic,” which clocks in at a swift two minutes and 55 seconds, is a clean, few-frills rocker that could have come from the more country side of the Drive-By Truckers.
As far as can be told from “What Happened to the LA LAs,” nothing significant has happened to moe. It’s still plugged in, pounding, laughing, crunching, turning sharp corners. Those attending Thursday’s concert at Belly Up Aspen need not worry whether the band can be heard over their talking.
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