The Moses Gun melds rock aesthetic and genre on new album


The Moses Gun

The Moses Gun

Release Date: Jan 15, 12

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The Moses Gun’s newest album is a bit like a food processor, or a Hadron collider: a composite of rock aesthetic and genre all hammered into one sound. The self-titled full length, released on Chicago’s DKT records, is high-energy. Metal riffs offset frantic power-chords; the high-end crackle on distorted guitars is mellowed by singer Vell Mullen’s voice, a guttural swell of emotion. The Moses Gun is like a timeline bent over itself and turned to a circle, bringing together rock sounds from the last 30-odd years into one pounding album.

The album is heavy for the most part, though Mullen and bassist Rich Harris know dynamics. The soft melody and harmony on “Better Things” brings to mind Pinback instead of Bad Brains. “Overdue” is a shredding rock song with an infectious chorus and tempered breakdown that showcases the Moses Gun’s formula of controlled chorus. The duo has an understanding of how to write a solid rock song, though they break away from the formula enough so the album never seems stiff or too predictable.  “Crumble Away” is a softer, almost ballad-like track, and one that doesn’t quite hit the mark, but the following song, “Damn Damn Damn,” opens with amp feedback and tumbling guitar riff. “Damn Damn Damn” thrashes about like it wants to apologize for the calmness of “Crumble Away.”

Though a lot of the sounds are familiar, the album has a refreshing quality. TMG maintains a loyalty to the riff that is admirable. Especially as current radio pop acts and trend-by-night indie artists are pushing for genres to collapse upon themselves – not in an inspiring way either, more like watered-down synthesis. Heavy metal passed the torch to rap in terms of music that scares Mitt Romney & co., but now radio rap has become a dance-pop version of itself.

The recent billboard number one, “Move Like Jagger,” brought together Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera. On “Jagger,” Maroon 5 basically traded instruments for pro tools and Aguilera. It seems like an odd pairing: where you might pair a fading star with a current hit-maker in hopes the old vet catches a spark, this song pairs two nearly forgotten pop acts. Maroon 5’s last billboard number one was “Make Me Wonder” in 2007, and Aguilera’s was even further back with 2001’s “Lady Marmalade.” Now the odd resurgence of two faded pop acts could be looked at in a few different ways. One way is to question why? and the answer might not stray too far from the fact that Maroon 5 crooner Adam Levine and Xtina are co-hosts on NBC’s The Voice, and maybe NBC needed a promotional hit to draw some audience interest for the show. And these days a hit song seems to be a blend of enough popular sounds in a three-minute span to appeal to as many people as possible.

Now, how all that relates to The Moses Gun is this: the duo’s austerity and loyalty to creating an abrasive rock record has an arresting quality, you want to stop and listen. Though TMG does blend sounds, it’s all things from the rock cannon, and is a natural progression for what a rock record today should sound like. The Moses Gun’s purity is something rare in a music world where most record companies are selling a cut and copy product.