Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Moog

Razzmatazz Orfeum
Musick Recordings

You Raised A Vampire, Side B The Passion Of Lovers (Bauhaus, featuring David J) Artwork by Gris Grimly

After a long hiatus and especially since 'tis the season, there's nothing like sinking your teeth into something from Hungary, the home (He ruled what is now Romania, but was born in Hungary) of a bloodsucker that doesn't need to be named. To boot, The Moog even live up to their birthright with "You Raised A Vampire", the first single from their latest release Razzmatazz Orfeum, with the bonus of a Bauhaus cover with David J as a guest!

The Moog lie off the beaten path of garage and psych in their Cars and obviously Moog infused take on goth rock, which in its present, more encompassing form of goth music, has incorporated earlier musical styles and thus, is not really rock 'n' roll, but in its early form, goth rock was the inevitable growth off of garage (Bauhaus even covered The Strangeloves classic "Nighttime", found on Nuggets: Volume I), Velvet Underground, and the early glam of Bowie and T.Rex. On their latest release, The Moog stay close to the "rock" part. The opening track "This Is Horror" provides a heavy Moog (of course) intro that reminds me of the little known Tones On Tail classic song "Performance" with its added guitar screeches announcing something big about to happen. It switches into a more '80s dark Britpop song with a strong melody and strong vocals from lead vox Tonyo, but the melodic diversions are a bit surprising. The followup "Panic" is a bit hard to pin down. However, like many of their progenitors such as Bauhaus, the combination of melody, searing guitars, and changing beats that still keep a basic but not constant structure is a sure trademark of the post punk ethos of breaking things down and starting up again.

"You Raised A Vampire" is a take on hunger caused by deprivation. Surprisingly, it's very upbeat and strange in The Moog's own way with its simplicity and faster beat. As one quickly learns with these guys, there's a lot more to them than what one immediately senses. A fast tempo, great, simple chords that seem to speed up, and some underlying "gothiness" to lend energy to your angst. "When I See You" is an immediate reminder of Weezer's "The Sweater Song", but an awful lot more fun with lyrics like "Just want me, just need me, just say that I'm your baby, I haunt you then kill you, When I see you I go, Woohoowhooo!" If anything, you'll want to put the fun back in funeral!

"Lost Day" puts a smile on the face of every late Joy Division and early New Order fan with a bass driven melody and a clean, melodic guitar coupled with a great vocal range that communicates longing and vulnerability not unlike Peter Hook. This is definitely an album highlight. The following "Joyclad Armies" shows off some heavier chops, but The Moog's unique combinations and musical refrains tend to be uncategorizable in the rock milleu, although still engaging and unmistakably theirs. "Sphinx" even gets heavier with a dominating and neverending tribal beat that keeps one listening. "Heart and Soul" is another great listen for fans of post punk Britpop in its Smithslike isolation, but Tonyo's falsetto is both amazing and a little alarming.

As someone with a broad musical background but a strong tendency towards certain definitions of great rock 'n' roll that lie in its r & b simplicity, the occasional infusion of jingly jangly guitar and sometimes, wonderful vocal harmonies but still having a tendency towards a definition of great rock 'n' roll as music that essentially gets one to dance, move, and have fun, The Moog present a challenge to it. They have those elements, but they bring a younger voice (and definitely spirit) with later post punk, dark Britpop, and goth influences that present a picture that's a little more complex than my original focus. The Moog could do a teenage vampire movie soundtrack on their own and hook everyone in that age group in. They're young and thus, could easily be categorized somewhere in the emo camp, but a genuine listen to Razzmatazz Orfeum gives a lot more surprises than a quick and easy classification that most bands their age have and stick to. The music has its simplicity, becomes elaborate, and like great rock 'n' roll, has very little in fillers or dull moments, although they packed a lot into the album that needs an explanation from a broader background. Despite the young appeal, the approach is very firm and never boring or predictable.

The album review would not be complete without a very honorable mention to the b-side from the "You Raised A Vampire" single, a cover of the Bauhaus classic "The Passion of Lovers" with a slight melodic guitar in line with the romanticism of early Mission UK and guest David J's detached vocals thematically fit the song and its original cover of a praying mantis being devoured. In fact, it's better than the version I recently saw Peter Murphy do live. Finally, the artwork on the gold vinyl 7inch by Chris Grimly is incredible.

You Raised a Vampire

Here's a new video for "When I see You" shot in Los Angeles at The Bob Baker Puppet Theater

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