By Daniel Kohn
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Amid punk and NuMetal hybrid groups, Moses McCartney's panoramic sound seems new, though their music is rooted in the atmospheric, reverb-heavy sonics made popular by such English acts as Echo & the Bunnymen, the Chameleons and Swervedriver.
"We're kind of stuck in a time warp," admits singer Dennis Crupi—he of the Morrisseyesque phrasings and stream-of-consciousness lyrics. "Everybody else has moved on."
To wit: the multitude of effects pedals employed by lead guitarist Clint Margrave. "Pedals seem to have been dumped by the current trends. It's not cool anymore to use them, but effects are one of the things I still find beautiful about guitar playing. To me, using the pedal is like painting a picture—it adds color," explains Margrave, who often closes out a concert by tweaking his guitar with a toy pistol until he achieves a mind-blowing squeal.
Even if Moses McCartney are on their own stylistic island, Crupi claims the music stands out because they're doing exactly what they want. "We don't play because we have to or because we should," he says. "There are a lot of bands making art for art's sake but not a lot of artists out there. It's all about vanity."
And in a time when most artists resign themselves to writing humble songs about what they know, Moses McCartney aren't afraid to draw inspiration from external and at times esoteric sources.
"Ionesco," a tune filled with Durutti Column-style guitar work and filtered vocals, was inspired by the French dramatist's 1960 play The Rhinoceros. "It was about a village that was peaceful until word came around that a rhinoceros was charging through town," Crupi relates with a storyteller's riveting cadence. "The rhinoceros represented fascism. One by one, everybody in town turned into a rhino except for the lead character, who resisted with all his might."
Which is how the band sees itself. "One of the hardest things to do is hold your ground when everybody around you is selling out," Crupi continues. "The chorus [of the song] related to my own life and friends who abandoned me."
Crupi says everyone goes through desertion at one time or another. "It's one of life's toughest lessons. People change. They stray and run to flashy, glittery things."
The band's eponymous debut album, released on rhythm guitarist Mike Kamoo's own Earthling Records label, was pieced together over the course of a year in Kamoo's El Cajon studio and has a lo-fi production à la Guided by Voices.
Though they hooked up two years ago, Kamoo and Crupi first met backstage at a Wonder Stuff concert nine years ago when Crupi was fronting Garden Grove's Primitive Painters. Crupi's frantic stage presence—shouting into megaphones, softly talking to himself and shaking wildly onstage—wasn't lost on Kamoo. "I was completely envious. I always wanted to play in a band with Dennis," Kamoo remembers fondly. "There's just so much I want to explore musically. I feel the need to dabble in a little bit of everything."Moses McCartney play with John Wilkes Kissing Booth and Jay Buchanan at Linda's Doll Hut, 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim, (714) 533-1286. Wed., 9 p.m. $5. 21+. The CD is available at Fingerprints in Long Beach or via www.earthlingrecords.com.