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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Old Devil Moon
Midnight and Bright
Hawthorne Street Records

Rating: 5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Somewhere between Mediocre Street and Adequate Avenue lies Common Place. That's where lots of bands have emerged. The Foo Fighters grew up there and I think Pop Unknown and half the Deep Elm roster were from the same area as well. Old Devil Moon just moved into their ivory tower right down the road a couple of weeks ago, and their debut CD, Midnight and Bright, is being displayed on a pedestal in City Hall.

Common Place is not a bad place to live. It's safe and comfortable, and they are well liked by their neighbors, but Old Devil Moon want so badly to move. It seems as if Common Place might have been their fall back, the neighborhood they wound up in after they couldn't afford to maintain real estate in different territories. They seem to be holding back, trapped in their own safe haven, and only on special occasions do they drift towards the genuine fervency of originality.

Featuring Jason Gagovski and Jay Golday of Suicide Note, Old Devil Moon have created an album way more subtle than the metallic hardcore sound associated with their primordial band, and have elected to play straight-laced indie rock. They tinker with spurts of creativity only to come across as a moderate extension that is slightly comparable to their influences.

Old Devil Moon claim to have a sound that appeals to fans of Frank Black and The Pixies, which is kind of frivolous considering how many bands have actually been roused by one or the other, in either case. Songs like "Way Up High", "She Can't Get Up", and "You Can't See" are comparable, due to their distinct jagged guitars and quirky semblance, but hardly as definitive or charismatic compared to their more influential counterparts. Golday's melodies aren't notably memorable, often dragging and repetitious in form, and his vocals seem to be recorded in a grotto rather than a befitting studio, making it difficult to gather any kind responsiveness from his lyrics as his words ineffectively pour like mumbled chatter.

It's not until the last quarter of Midnight and Bright that we hear some sort of creativity. Old Devil Moon show themselves capable of producing a highlight, in the form of "Lay it Down". Imagine the charming and delectable guitar instrumentation from Santo and Johnny's song "Sleep Walk" combined with Hammond organ and Golday's sorrowful melody painting pictures that the lyrics are trying to narrate. It's a nice tune, not as domineering in regards to the rest of the album, which makes it all the more effective. It acts as a link to what songs actually work and which ones fizzle into pigeonholes and stalemates.

"Cybil" also offers a refreshing side of the band's more abrasive attitude, assembling heavily crushing guitars with a backbeat to boost the songs aggression in an electrifying punk rock rampage. It's drenched with shouted lyrics, vague in their subject matter, but all the more reason to commend its esoteric formula: "My heart is empty/ show me the way to the dark/ am I alive/ seems like I've drifted along/ There goes my secret/ into the night it's a sign/ enter the night and shine the light."

A sprawling picked guitar pattern ends the record with "Comfortable," which is a fitting title considering how peacefully it joins with the second guitar, pampering the instrumental air, connecting Mogwai's dreamy soundscapes with a more straightforward drum beat. Right at the three-minute mark, the song turns into a crashing epic completely polar to what the rest of Midnight and Bright had previously offered.

If Old Devil Moon would simply defend themselves from the binding restraints of their own mediocrity and harness what makes their debut praiseworthy... Only then will the band be truly promising. For right now, their opening album falls a little too close to standard indie rock procedure.

Reviewed by Mark Taylor
A senior LAS staff writer, Mark Taylor is a 29 year old father of a 5 year old son and husband to a wife of 6 years, living the simple life in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC.

See other reviews by Mark Taylor



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