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L

moe.

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Album Review

Recorded at several shows across their fall 1999 tour, L captures Moe in the process of moving from an adventurous bar and club band to a respectably polished theater act. With the reintegration of former drummer Jim Loughlin back into the band as a multi-instrumental utility man in early 1999, the band vastly expanded their textural palette. While the band tightened, though, they also ossified, losing some of their sense of improvisational risk-taking. The jams on the double album are swift and directed, but sound almost rehearsed to a fault (especially in contrast with their previous improv-based releases, the live album Loaf and Meat single). The version of "Meat" featured on L, for example, is quick and brutal. Its high energy improvisation is organized in the round as each player leads briefly before passing the musical baton to the next musician. While this keeps the music from drifting, it also robs the piece of collective creativity. Critics have often accused the band's sound of being derivative. While specific influences — Frank Zappa, Neil Young, the Allman Brothers Band, to name a few — are pretty easy to pick out, the band generally uses this to their advantage, creating a sound that carries with it a surprising amount of depth, mostly through highly personable interplay between the instruments, notably guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey.

Biography

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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