on January 28, 2007
As a long time moe.ron, having seen them over 50 times and I attend the annual SummerCamp and moe.Down festivals, I am always uneasy when they release "studio" albums (I put "studio" in quotes becasue they record the songs live and then tweak them in the studio) because they are predominantly a live band, and a killer one at that. The Conch continues moe.'s sound of rockin' jamming, with a little more emphasis on the rock and a little less on the jammin'. Now I know that some other moe.rons will complain that they are departing from the sound that got them where they are today. But I say that if you stay with one style and don't expand, you get stagnant and then people claim that you are standing still.
That said, pick up The Conch and you will not be disappointed, unless you like standing still.
on January 25, 2007
Given the fact that moe.'s previous CD, "Wormwood", represented a masterpiece within the jam-based community and given the fact that I had been underwhelmed upon hearing most of the songs from the new CD when performed live over the past couple of years, my expectations for "The Conch" were admittedly low. But if there's one thing this long-time "moe.ron" SHOULD know by now, it's that you should never doubt this band when it comes to crafting intelligent, grooving and infectious songs. Needless to say, this CD FAR exceeded my expectations, so much so that I view it as more of a continuation of the excellence exhibited on the aforementioned "Wormwood". Yeah, it's that good, folks.
moe. chose to record the core of both "Wormwood" and "The Conch" in a live setting for a simple reason: the energy of even the best jam/improv-oriented bands like moe. is typically lost upon entering the sterile studio environment. By recording these CDs live, then performing studio dubs and post-production work, moe. is able to give the fans the energy and creativity that draws them to their shows in the first place. Of course, it takes a band comprised of stellar musicians such as moe. to be able to pull off such a feat. Lesser acts are forced to utilize the studio as a crutch which is designed to piece together fragments of polished, "studio-friendly" music in order to create a final product which can be mass-marketed to the American Idol types. Bands like moe., on the other hand, thrive in live and improvisational settings, allowing them to take entire pieces of live music and apply post-production "bits and pieces" in the studio for an end result which is more accurately representative of what you will hear from the band when you actually see them live. Simply put, moe. isn't afraid of the "warts and all" because even the warts outshine the pre-packaged, saccharine tripe which is typically spoon-fed to the masses.
As for the CD itself, while there are some interesting-departures (the vaguely jazz-tinged "Blue Jeans Pizza" and the somber "Summer o i" and the basso continuo "MacIntyre Range"), much of it represents the type of continued evolution with which we have already become familiar with "Wormwood" and "Dither". Songs such as "The Road", "Tailspin" and even "Wind it Up" would not have seemed TOO terribly out of place in 2001, though the songs represent a more logical progression when heard 6 years later.
So if you, like me, are a long-time moe.ron who has enjoyed the band's progression over the years, you'll love this CD. If you aren't a fan of the more "noodly" jam bands, check this CD out. These guys emphasize the importance of a finely-crafted song structure instead of just writing an "excuse" to jam.
on September 17, 2007
First, let me address the "fans" who aren't fans. You know who you are, the ones who like the one-off songs by a band, but put them down for releasing something good. You disgust me. You probably wish that Okayalright wasn't on Wormwood, then it'd be perfect, right?
Wrong! Stop trampling on these hardworking bands, you fakers. I happen to like good songs, and if moe. decides to release an album full of them, so be it. A good song may end up being "commercial", but only because IT'S A GOOD SONG. This does not mean that they are changing, but by all means feel free to move on. The true fans will be happy to take your place.
Now let's get down to the real nitty-gritty:
The Conch is an album of what moe. does best and that is ROCK. Opening with Blue Jeans Pizza, you feel like you're at an exclusive party - just for you. Lost Along the Way & Tailspin are highlights, but then you get to this song. A song that at first sounds familiar - a little bit of Kids mixed with Crab Eyes, but there's something more.
Wind It Up is the reason to buy the album. A thirty second clip does you no good. This is the song moe. has been trying to make since they started. To compare them to one of there contemporaries: this is their Harry Hood. Just hearing it on the album you know you can see it becoming a monstrous live jam. Y Eaux Massa is the "reprise" of the end of Wind It Up.
You're at the halfway point, but moe's only getting started. Down Boy has this quirky, bouncy rhythm with a tight chorus. You can wait for the chorus, but then you can't wait for the verses. Honestly, I can see them ripping into some pretty crazy jams off of this one, too. I love the (albeit sparse) use of the guitar tube.
The next three tracks are decent (I really like Where Does the Time Go), but then you get to The Road. The Road seems to cut from the same cloth as Again & Again/Letter Home (writing style). This is a very moe. song.
I'm not going to spoil the end for you, but after getting the album, you may want to go to iTunes to buy the bonus track - McBain!
Yes, IT'S AVAILABLE AS AN INDIVIDUAL DOWNLOAD.
on April 25, 2007
this is, quite simply, the best studio album moe. has ever put out. what pushes the conch past other studio efforts is the consistancy and excellence of the performances and the songs. there are simply no moments of weakness (moe. fans might remember overly frivolous tunes with unecessarily quirky lyrics that, while being certainly creative, might be difficult to take seriously and get behind emotionally) from albums past anywhere on the album, save for the 4 brief reprise/interludes scattered throughout the more fully-formed songs. this album shows moe. at the peak of their powers to date. and the excedingly high quality of their live shows during this time (i recently caught them in san diego and la in april, '07) provide a just and timely complement to the recent release of the album.
each song on the conch includes long and interesting solos and jams by chuck and al. and the jams are hard and heavy! this is when moe. is best, in my opinion - when they really turn up the volume and blast off, sonically. chuck and al's twin guitar attack steal the show on the conch, with, alternately, one guitarist crunching the power chords while the other guitarist plays guitar hero to compelling effect. i've always connected with chucks's playing in particular and the conch is an embarrassment of riches for us chuck fans. his phrasing and power on the conch are perfect.
i'm giving this album to all my music-loving fans who've either never heard of moe. or don't know too much about them. it's the perfect representation of a great rock band.
on April 7, 2007
moe. started off their career as a few college friends just looking to occupy their time by playing music at fraternity parties. The lyrical substance (or lack thereof) of some of their earlier work is evidence of this -- songs such as "Dr. Graffenberg" and "Long Island Girls Rule" from their early 90's repertoire seem as if they were penned by your drunken neighbor down the hall in the college dorms. However, even at this early stage, something clearly separated moe. from the pack of Def Leppard cover bands that call sloppy college bars their home -- an almost innate ability to improvise on their instruments, and a tight bond between the individual musicians that made their songs become more like musical conversations between the band members rather than 'its-my-turn-now' wankery. If you take this perspective when evaluating moe.'s catalog, you can clearly see the progression from this early stage, to their stint with Sony Music and mainstream rock of "No Doy" and "Tin Cans And Car Tires", to self-reflection and independence on "Dither" on "Wormwood".
The five members of moe. have grown up significantly in their 15 years of playing together, and most are now married with young children. The songs on "The Conch" reflect this growth both personally and musically. Songs about drinking and partying have been replaced by introspective ballads such as Chuck Garvey's strikingly beautiful "Where Does The Time Go?" and Al Schnier's "Lost Along The Way". That's not to say the boys have gone soft, though, and several songs on this album, such as "The Pit" and "Brittle End" give the listener a taste of the metal-arena-rock that moe.'s live shows feature more extensively. "Y Eaux Massa" gives the listener a slight idea of the crowd participation that is a hallmark of live moe. shows, and "Wind It Up" weaves multiple musical textures together in one of moe.'s strongest compositions to date. There's even political sentiment offered in "Tailspin", a song about how one can get lost in the media's 'spin' on current events.
moe. is a band best experienced live, and if there is one criticism of this album, it is that the songs perhaps lack a bit of studio 'polish' and sound more like cleaned up, concise versions of their live songs. Still, especially if you are new to moe., or rediscovering the band for the first time in a while, this album is highly recommended as a way to learn where they have evolved to at this point in their careers. Get this album, get a few of the "Warts and All" releases, and then go to a live show to truly experience this band!
Robert H. Goretsky
I have to admit that it took some time for "the Conch" to work its way under my skin. I guess it's hard to appreciate "The Conch" without considering that it doesn't match its predecessor. Just as Umphrey's McGee's "Safety in Numbers" failed to live up to the greatness of "Anchor Drops," moe. failed to launch two consecutive grand slams. "Wormwood" was one of the all-time greatest jamband discs and the successor may have determined if the group would become the next Phish. The verdict is in: moe is as great a band as ever but the golden throne is left unoccupied. Okay, enough about what "The Conch" isn't; a review should focus on a CD's qualities. "The Conch" is a great disc, on a similar level of quality with the rest of moe.'s discography. 'Tailspin' blazes with moe's signature sound and song writing chemistry. Other highlights include 'Wind It Up,' 'She,' and 'The Road.' Steely Dan might sue the band over the harmonies employed in 'Blue Jeans Pizza.' 'Lost Along The Way' had already found a place in our hearts with the band's "Live from the Fillmore" DVD. 'Where Does The Time Go' demonstrates the band's song writing abilities. "The Conch" has a balance of rockers, short instrumentals and slow ballads. While those who found the band with "Wormwood" may be a bit disappointed, "The Conch" outshines "Sticks and Stones," and stands as a deeply satisfying album.
on April 17, 2007
It's been four years since Moe.'s last official "studio" effort, Wormwood. They have continued the process they started on that album, namely recording the main tracks live in concert and putting the best performances on the album. Then they go and add some slight studio enhancement as well as some short transitional pieces to make the songs fit together more smoothly. The technique worked brilliantly on Wormwood, which sounded like an amazing single live set from the band.
The Conch is largely successful using these same methods. Moe.'s biggest strength, songwriting, has always made them an anamoly among their jam-band brethren, but it tends to make for excellent albums. While this album runs a bit long at 17 tracks, there are numerous highlights throughout. The band wisely keeps things relatively short and sweet here, so there are no 8-minute plus jamming excursions to bog things down.
Things start off gently with the laid-back "Blue Jeans Pizza" and the southern rock ballad "Lost Along the Way." "Lost" does feature a ripping guitar solo, though, the first of many to come on the album. The title track is one of the aforementioned transitions, paving the way for the hard-rocking, Bush Administration-bashing "Tailspin."
Next up is the musically dark "The Pit." This is another rocker, with simple lyrics about going to Hell, but with more fiery guitar solos and a never-ending chorus featuring unusual harmony vocals. From here, the album wanders through the same range of genres the band usually tackles. "Another One Gone" is a sparse country-rock tune, while "Wind it Up" is jam-band style prog-rock, "She" is somewhat silly pop, and "The Road" is a speedy rocker about being on the road.
In the middle of the album, "Down Boy" is a particular highlight. Another song featuring unusual harmonies, it's brilliantly catchy and listenable. The album's closer, "Brittle End," is a song so slow it's practically crawling, but it manages to do a steady build of menace and crunching guitars to go along with the narrator's increasing lyrical desperation.
Although much of this album isn't anything really new for the band (although there's a lot more piano here than ever before), the strong songwriting and inventive guitar playing keep things afloat. Vocalists Rob Derhak, Al Schnier, and Chuck Garvey sound different enough from each other to keep things interesting, as well. One of the best albums of '07 so far, and the wealth of highlights may keep it on my list through year's end.
on July 3, 2008
I have set the bar for moe a long time ago, and have always had funny reactions to everything since 'No Doy', for one reason or another. The other funny thing is is that all the studio CD's from this awesome jam band grow on you, in one way or another. The thing that seems to be clear is that most fans prefer moe live to anything they release in the studio anyhow. Being a moe fan, I would have to say YEAH to that because they are something else live...but on the other hand any great live jam band has to do great studio stuff too - the Dead did it!
Bottom line is that 'The Conch' comes pretty darn close to the 'feel' of "live and studio" that Wormwood achieved a few years back - the problem is that the songs just aren't quite as good, but they are still damn good nonetheless. This CD brought me back to the simplicity of their earlier stuff (No Doy, Headseed), but a more polished version...so, heck, can you go wrong with that?? Moe be moe, and I hardly think these guys care one way or another...they have their moe-ron fan base (like me) who just crave their stuff, their sound, them. The Conch is a damn good addition to their discography!
Enjoy this beauty, as it stands proudly with all their other studio stuff!!
on April 1, 2007
While the best introduction to moe. remains, in my view, Warts and All Vol 2 (Mexico and Happy Hour Hero are collectively the best extended live jam ever recorded IMHO, and moe. is above all a great live band), The Conch wins a tight race as the second best studio album by this amazing group. Tin Cans and Car Tires barely holds its first place position. I respectfully disagree with those who claim The Conch does not match Wormwood. Both releases have their own virtues, but I think The Conch edges out Wormwood as the better collective work. Mind you, this latest is a bit more laid back overall (hence the title), but the "Five Guys" have put together some of their best songs yet. Blue Jeans Pizza, The Conch/Tailspin, Wind It Up, Where Does The Time Go, and The Road are the highlights, but the ballads and other instrumentals also contribute to a delightful "smorgasbord" of what we fans love most about five guys named moe. Blue Jeans Pizza and Wind It Up are simply two of their best songs ever. These guys have served it up big time, and fans with the munchies have never had it so good!!
on July 10, 2007
When this album first came out i knew that it was something special. I knew i would have to give it many more listens before I could really figure out how it compared to the rest of Moe.'s albums. But after seeing the band perform almost all of the tracks off this album over this summer (can't wait to see them this coming weekend at All Good!!!) and listening many more times, I've decided that it is at leasat equal to if not better than any other studio effort they've released. I agree that they are best listened to live, but The Conch just kicks butt. See ya at Moe.Down!