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Warts & All, Vol. 1

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Album Review

Far more lively than L, moe.'s previous live record, the first volume in the Warts and All series captures a complete show from the upstate New York quintet at the Scranton Cultural Center in Pennsylvania, recorded shortly after the release of Dither. A good cross-section of the band's career is represented over the show's three discs, including some of their earliest songs ("Timmy Tucker," "Meat"), songs from 1998's Tin Cans and Car Tires ("Nebraska," "Head"), tunes from Dither ("The Ghost of Ralph's Mom," "Tambourine"), and songs debuted only a few months before the show ("Crab Eyes," "Kyle's Song"). The focus is on the improvisation, which is still somewhat predictable compared to what the band is capable of, though there are certainly myriad exciting moments throughout, notably on "Meat" and the segue from "Happy Hour Hero" to "Seat of My Pants," a live favorite. In particular, multi-instrumentalist Jim Loughlin shines here, adding electronic vibes and piccolo bass throughout to create a densely melodic wall. Also of note is the album debut of "Crab Eyes," a stunning song which — with Loughlin's vibes in full effect — is reminiscent of Ruth Underwood-era Frank Zappa. Though the band is tie-dyed, its post-punk roots are still quite visible with songs like "The Ghost of Ralph's Mom" and an encore cover of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated."


Formed: 1991

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Rising from the dingy college bars of upstate New York, moe. carved a niche for themselves with a distinct blend of Americana, melodic turns, clever songwriting, and jam band ethics. The bandmates were born and raised in the industrial town of Utica, but it took matriculation at the University of Buffalo for moe. to finally coalesce. Founded in 1990 by bassist/vocalist Rob Derhak, guitarist/vocalist Chuck Garvey, and original drummer Ray Schwartz, the band toured the university's party circuit under...
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