Thursday, March 12, 2009

SXSW '09 Pick #16: The Moog!

The Moog

Sold For Tomorrow
Musick Records

Budapest's The Moog are the newest teen sensation out of Hungary. Well, the only teen sensation out of Hungary, for that matter. Short, sweet songs created out of early punk, synthy new wave, and a little indie rock become popular music that's still good music. "Your Sweet Neck" is about as current as one can be with it's vampire theme, so it's no wonder that goth kids are among their growing legions of fans, despite that it's a catchy, Cars like synth tune that's beat and hooks are about as far beyond the self indulgent themes and slower tempos of most goth rock, but maybe the appeal is Tonyo's seductive, low voice. "Everybody Wants" is a little '80s and a little modern indie with clever guitar hooks and a catchy chorus that causes one to envision Sold For Tomorrow as beginning to take root among the disaffected high school youth that still value art and literature. Definitely a thing for the geeks! The teenage angst bend to a lot of Sold For Tomorrow is temporarily shed on the super clap and say "yeah" along song "I Don't Want You Now", and it's probably the 'funnest' song on the release. Was that a Moog at the end?

The first single off the album, "I Like You" is catchy, but seems to aim more for young romance or better stated, obsession with its repetitive chorus, but the refrain "I do not know what I should do" adds a little more character and has some well filled drumming from Gergo that gives it some added depth that will cause a better listen. "If I Died" definitely has a Moog and gives the song a straight out of '80s American new wave bend, but with lyrics "Oh, and there's nothing left for me to live or die for, so I think I lock every door behind me and throw away the keys 'cause it would not impress me" speaks volumes for their appeal to the doom and gloom". Wait, the chorus of "If I loved, if I cried, if I died" is really fun! I guess one could say the appeal of The Moog is that the music is fun, early new wave and punk based, but the juxtaposition of gloomy and/or teenage angst expands their appeal. I'm wondering how the brooding, black dressed crowd will deal with a live show with so many people smiling, pogoing and singing along? Another standout is "Survive". It's got a fast, near hardcore punk beat that suits it's theme of telling some sad (probably goth girl, again) to stop blaming others and pay attention to their own actions.

A particular appeal of Sold For Tomorrow is that it has both a musical depth and simultaneous simplicity. "Xanax Youth" is a great example of that. Drums and Csabi's bass have a clarity and wholeness, but Adi adds guitar that is both melodic and slightly hooked while also relying on a chord progression that channels early Joy Division. The lyrics? Imagery that's straight out of the book of The Cure, but instead of taking their route of abandoning sharper hooks for somber but good melodies, the song has a really good buildup and eventual climax of drums and feedback which only serves to summarize that The Moog is a rock 'n' roll band that's harder to place. The bonus song "Hit Song" empasizes The Moog's contradictions further as a song of longing but acceptance of a breakup, only it sounds so happy it's beat!

Being not so easily categorized can either be a blessing or a curse. Too often, music fans put their tastes in a pidgeonhole by taking a narrow view of it and only putting bands in that narrow, little space. In truth, great bands have musical connections who are in turn also great, but not necessarily in the same way. If one loves great rock 'n' roll, then they see those connections, although they don't necessarily have to love them. Are The Byrds a garage rock band? No. Are The Sonics a psych/garage band? No. However, many of us share an interest for bands that fall under both influences. How is surf music with it's emphasis on notes instead of straight chords related to garage rock? Musically, one could say it isn't. Therein lies the appeal of The Moog. They're a lot of fun musically. Great beats, catchy hooks, the occasional Moog itself finds its way in and gives the music a quirky, new wave feel at times. The other side is lyrically, they're kind of goth with darker themes, heavy imagery, and plenty of teenage angst. Their influences lean just as heavily on The Ramones as they do to bands from Manchester, UK in the early '80s and the following Batcave crowd which spawned the goth scene. These oppositions are sharp, but The Moog have taken them to create something entirely new that sounds familiar without sounding too much like anyone, so they fit perfectly in with what so many of us seek when we hear new music. We want somthing that has a past in great bands, but we appreciate it more when it still is original. Otherwise, we'd be listening to the same thing. If one's in the latter category, then one's too old for rock 'n' roll.

"Everybody Wants"

"I Don't Want You Now"

SXSW Appearances

Mar 19 2009 4:00p.m. Unofficial SXSW free day show Blue Velvet Vintage Clothing 217 W North Loop Blvd 78751
Mar 19 2009 8:00p.m. SXSW
Mar 20 2009 8:30p.m. SXSW Official show Club 115 115 San Jacinto 78701

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