Friday, February 22, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 86: moe. - Dither

Album - Dither
Artist - moe.
Key Players - Rob Derhak - bass, vocals. Chuck Garvey - acoustic and electric guitars,vocals. Al Schnier acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, piano, vocals and moog synthesizer. Jim Loughlin - percussion and flute. Vinnie Amico - drums

Produced By - John Siket and moe.

Release Date - February 6, 2001

What caused me to blow off the dust? - With the band just releasing a new cd, and me missing yet another one of their recent shows I went back to see what it was I had grown to like in the first place. New cd is in hand and a band that is forever on tour are always a good mix.

Overview - This was the fifth studio album from the band moe. (always with the ".". The band formed their own label to release this record after little success on prior records on a major label. The band recorded this around the country at various times during their tours. The band would later perfect methods to record studio quality albums while on the road. The band continues to evolve pushing musical boundaries and each other. The band is active in the festival circuit and have even curate their own "Sno Downs" and "moe downs". The band got a little exposure outside the jam band circles when a few songs from this record were played on adult album rock stations in the USA (Tambourine, New York City, and, Captain America)

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Special guest DJ Logic lays down the scratch mixes as Derhak belts the opening line of "Captain America" before the band comes in. A funky fusion of guitars and keyboards it has a happy bounce. The record scratching kept towards the back allowing for the band to show case their playing as well as vocal harmonies. Schnier has a good keyboard breakdown while Loughlin keeps the ship steady with his percussion work. The songs hardly fade out (much like most of their live show) as "Faker" begins to fade up with laid back vocals and slide guitar. By the chorus Derhak, Schnier and Garvey all showcase strong vocal harmonies, a usual stand out on both the faster and slower songs. The guitar solo, albeit short, is awash with a country music vibe and violin can be heard wavering over the top as well. A pretty song. "Understand" follows and Derhak takes a back seat on the vocals, its Al's turn to shine. Another fun song, that showcases how tight the band is. The tempo changes that alternate with hard hitting drums and guitar fuzzy ness then suddenly awash with a vocal phase segment. Amico shines on this track as well. He exhibits why is part is equal to the whole. "T60RM" its a fast past fun track. Garvey uses his talk box on the guitar line while the band blossoms around. The verse sections are somewhat simple, but as the chorus arrives there are strong harmonies from the guys once more, a trend that really continues. The band will rock for two, three verses, then slow it down with a verse that is acoustic lead before Amico et.all chop it back in to the rocking chorus. At the outset we slow it down a little with the next track "So Long". Derhaks bass swoops underneath acoustic guitars before Schnier returns to the lead vocal duty. It is sort of a mellow, not overly crazy music wise until after the three minute mark where it picks up some, and is a washed with strings. Not a bad song, but as I listen once more I see what they might have been trying to do. One of the "singles" released is up next, "New York City". This is a very fun track and is a good idea of the overall sound of moe. The guitars are sharp and Loughlin and Amico shine. You get it all here, great guitars, catchy hooks a pounding rhythm section. Easy to see why it was a single. (check in the down load). Schnier continues his presence as the musical go to guy as "Can't Seem to Find" opens with acoustic guitars and harmonica (Al takes lead vocals on this as well). A fan favorite in a live setting the song has a strong "American music" feel to it. Very alt country if you will. Fans of Wilco for example would feel right at home. Another strong moe. track is "Water". It might not be a "rocking" track but the band, is tight, it is that simple. The guitar fills are crisp and full and the phase on the vocals add a cool touch. The shimmer of keys, the hard cymbal crashes before we "twang it up" again time and time again. The band is sort of all over the map on this track, but it s great listen. The track is over seven minute long and the "solo sections" are the most fun. Another one of the singles released to radio "Tambourine" is up next. The song is very short by moe. standards (2:17) and I personally find it moderate. It is just not interesting to me, based off what they have done up to this point on the record. A very curious cover song follows, "In A Big Country". Originally done by Scottish (and soon to be FDF band)Big Country. A track that could not be very easy to cover both musically and vocally the band does a strong version. Check out the down load of it. With tom tom rolls and guitars fading up "Rise" slowly builds before a moog myth gives the song a funk groove. Per the norm, the guitars shine and there is great play between Garvey and Schnier. The album closes with the epic "Opium" clocking in at over 23 minutes in length..but don't let that fool you. Opium is a great track with strong rock moments we have come to expect and Derhak shines vocally. When the track ends hit the fast forward button to 19:57 where a demo sounding version of "Captain America" is buried.

Where are they now? - moe. is still very active. The band released "Sticks and Stones" in early 2008 and are constantly on the road. The band members hardly ever sit still, each having solo, or side projects to keep themselves busy. The band is very active in the festival scene as noted. Besides curating their own Summer and Winter festivals the band has played every major festival in the USA including Woodstock 1999, Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Vegoose and Langerado to name but a few. The band always works to be as close to the fans and participated in the moe. cruise in 2004 and 2007. The band also donates their time and money to various causes. Between 2005 and 2006 the bands contributions were over $200,000.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have seem moe. live on five separate occasions. (a far cry from the 100+ the moe.ron's see). The first was a fun day March 3, 2001. The day started off with an in studio session at the radio station I worked at 92.5 the River/WXRV. The band set up and played three tunes and chatted with one of DJs. I hopped in my car and followed them to Boston for their show that night at the Orpheum. It was a trip as the band let me emcee the gig (as in I was the one that brought them out on stage) and I watched the whole thing from the side of the stage. The guys were excellent and name it, made this newbie a fan for sure! The second time was later that year on September 14, 2001. It was a somber, yet electric night as it was just days after the Sept 11th attacks. The venue filled up and everyone was semi tense about being in a big crowd. Al thanked the crowd for coming out and getting away from the tv even if it was for just a little while. The band opened with a rousing version of "Captain America". Third time was November 18, 2003 at the Orpheum. Fun show as they played one of my personal faves "Kyles Song" as well as a moderate version of Metallicas "Enter Sandman". The final time was on February 11, 2005 at the Palladium in Worcester, MA. My buddy Kris, a huge fan, got backstage passes and once more I stood on the side of the stage for the duration watching the band whip the sell out crowd in to a frenzy. There has been a few additional times I have had a chance to see them but haven't gotten my butt in gear, it will happen again though, I can feel it.

FDF Overall Take - if you read this far you are either a fan of the band or genre probably. Its surprising how little "talent" can get you noticed. What I mean is the guys are all very proficient in their instruments but how often do you hear any of them mentioned on "best of" lists. The band has not really sold a lot of studio albums but have carved a nice niche in the live market. Fans in the know are thrilled the band has sort of been a little secret for this long, and as time goes on they slowly are gaining a little more notice outside the "jam band" circle. Check them out live some time, you will probably really have a great time.

Links -
Official site - here
myspace page - here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

**mp3's have been removed**
Captain America
New York City
In A Big Country

All tracks taken from "Dither". You can get your own copy here

For live shows you can check out the live music archive. Using this link should get you started if you so desire.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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