Iran-The Moon Boys

August 25, 2009

Iran

The Moon Boys(Tumult 2003)

http://www.mediafire.com/?xfzgntxay4m

I was sorely disappointed by Iran’s latest album, Dissolver, because it stripped away all of the scuzz and feedback that mated so perfectly with their wayward way with a simple melody. Yeah, its “progression” probably had a lot to do with the addition of TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone to the band, but their newfound clarity always aims for the bullseye where Aaron Aite used to revel in mistakes and missteps. By no means is Dissolver a bad album, but count me in the minority who find Aites’ embrace of chaos more appealing than his attempts at an orderly pop song. Then again, six years have passed since The Moon Boys was released and god knows that time has a funny way of adjusting the way you view the world. Therefore, let us take a few moments to pay tribute to an album that may be one of the best albums Siltbreeze, Xpressway, Shrimper or Catsup Plate never released. Yes, these are obscure benchmarks, but it was rare that any of these labels released a perfect marriage of noise to pop even though I wanted so hard to believe that it was so. Yes, the Dead C, V-3, Yips, Amps for Christ and other disparate souls have come damn close to this holy union, but I always reach for this album over anything in their discographies.

The synthesis of noise and pop is hardly an underground concept. God knows that the Jesus & Mary Chain made some moolah with their own jigsaw of Phil Spector and white noise and the whole shoegaze scene was based upon sensual coos and a lusher brand of feedback and squall, but The Moon Boys stands out because there is a sprawl to their compositions that seems epic comparison to the aforementioned bands’ succinct slices of sweet and sour. Sonic Youth’s “Hyperstation” from their Daydream Nation seems like the most accurate touchstone for Iran’s music circa The Moon Boys. I remember listening to “Hyperstation” at 3am as a teenager and imagining if there was another band that could conjure the same loose, late-night vibe where a psych-pop song sounds as if it was heard via a faraway AM station many states away from your destination. This album does that for me throughout its entirety. Then again, I am a former insomniac who used to listen to the scratchiest transmissions instead of counting sleep or drinking warm milk, so my bias is evident.

The imperfections are what make The Moon Boys so gripping. Don’t be fooled that melodies worthy of Brian Wilson lurk beneath the muck because these tunes tend to stretch out in sometimes difficult directions. What does stick out is Aaron Aites’ guitar work as he somehow straddles the line between outright sabotage and grubby melody. No song really even stands out here as the overall effect of it as an album is what gets me every single time. I approach it as a long rambling epic where slow, atonal riffs last for days only to be replaced by some of the most simple and sweet notes that shake all of the pieces back into proper balance. Iran always stride close to the edge only to reconfigure themselves as something so sentimental and tender that you almost forget you were listening to a staccato riff seconds before. The Moon Boys is admittedly a bit of a mess, but I hear something new each time I try to reassemble the pieces.

Moose-Sonny and Sam

August 27, 2008

Moose

Sonny and Sam(Virgin 1992)

http://www.mediafire.com/?nizl3ybht94

During my teenage years, I became obsessed with shoegaze and faithfully trekked to Philadelphia’s 3rd St. jazz and Rock to pick up any ep or cd remotely associated with this poorly named genre. I’m not trying to come off as some precocious wisenheimer since I also purchased albums by 24-7 Spyz, Hoodoo Gurus and 3rd Bass. However, I heard a track from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything on WKDU and spent by bicycle messenger salary on every NME, Sounds and Melody Maker to search out similar sounds. Through these delightful and sometimes ridiculous rags, I fell in love with Slowdive, Swervedriver, Lush and other bands that adopted MBV as an influence and spun it in their own kaleidoscope of feedback and buried melodies. These three acts among others achieved relative success and are still fondly remembered by fans today. However, there were many worthwhile bands that fell through the cracks or lost their bearings after a brilliant single or ep. England’s Moose definitely fell into the latter category even though they released a few albums afterwards.

Sonny and Sam collected tracks from their first two eps and added a couple odds and ends in the hopes of attracting an American audience. It’s a pretty concise summation of what made them stick out from their peers. Moose’s music adhered to the shoegaze blueprint, but there was something tender and habitually heartbroken about their music that set them apart as the sad sacks of the scene. That’s why I loved them since their romantic odes to butterfly collectors and a lover’s morning gaze appealed to the maudlin side of me. Plus, they knew when to turn off the spigots of feedback and toss in a minimal ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on Sarah or Creation records. They had some diversity and their music wasn’t constantly drugged and distant. Moose wanted to be loved and wallow in noise as well as their alienation and woe. Now, their later albums focused more on the alienation and woe instead of noise and that made them less interesting. Sonny and Sam captures a moment when they didn’t know whether they wanted to be a brit-pop band or something more ragged and intriguing.

Ecstasy of St. Theresa

Fluidtrance Centauri ep

http://www.mediafire.com/?zy0tmxlyyym

During the heyday of shoegaze, there were many more classic eps than actual albums. Slowdive, Ride, Swervedriver, Moonshake, Telescopes, Moose and others had their brightest achievements on their first eps, not their full length albums. Yes, Pygmalion, Mezcal Head and Nowhere are great albums, but their singles and eps just encapsulate all that was excellent about these bands in a consise statement. All of the aforementioned bands had bright futures in which they delivered on their potential to varying degrees, but there was one band that only had that one great ep and not much else.

Czechoslovakia wasn’t exactly a hotbed for musical innovation, but it did spawn Ecstasy of St. Theresa. the band was named after St. Theresa’s vision of a handsome angel that appeared at her bedside to pierce her with a spear and set her her heart afire with passion. I always loved the sexual nature of this beatific image and it fits the hazy, sensual air of their ethereal music. The ep is derived from a Peel Session and stands as the pinnacle of their short career. Later albums found them embracing early 70s Pink Floyd and the ambient scene of the time, but these three songs tapped into the majesty of the Cocteau Twins at their most ornate moments circa Treasure and mated it to the woozy feedback of My Bloody Valentine. It is a combo attempted by most of their contemporaries, but none of them succeeded except this band. The first track”Fluidum” is so perfect and such a distillation of all that I loved about the few years this genre thrived. It is oozing with a lazy sexuality that reminds one of a day spent in a bed exploring the birds and the bees.

Slowdive

Pygmalion Demos

http://www.mediafire.com/?um1ms1lcuri

During my teenage years, I heard some tracks from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything and the resultant eps and they had me at hello. I loved Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, but had no frame of reference for the sounds emanating from my shoddy boombox. I bought all I could and discovered the Creation label which led me to collect a string of eps from Moonshake, Telescopes, Swervedriver and most importantly, Slowdive. The s/t and Morningrise eps contained music even more alien than the MBV releases since it borrowed from them, but made it so sluggish, noisy and it sounded like a funeral dirge. I loved this point in their development and still hold it in the highest of regards. However, Slowdive’s full-length, Just For a day, relied on ep tracks for traction and the rest was underwhelming. Souvlaki was another bag meat shavings that we’ll for another day.

I liked Just For a day and Souvlaki just fine, but sort of wrote them off a bit until their grand finale Souvlaki was released. This album didn’t even get a proper release in the United States. The album was generally ignored in comparison to its more readily available counterparts. However, I picked up the 5(In Mind) eps and was amazed at how they had taken a u-turn from shoegaze and even traditional song structures involving choruses and crescendos to a more amorphous approach.

Souvlaki is sparse to say the least. In my mind, it gets bunched with Flying Saucer Attack’s excellent Further album as the two finest examples of a progression of English acid-folk recorded by actual English bands. Pygmalion. It’s shoegaze on a handful of qualudes and serious personal issues. It is the sound of a breakup, both musically and personally. However, I wouldn’t peg Pygmalion as a particularly sad album. It’s a doped-up bummer to be sure, but there are glimmers of optimism throughout. This charade has gone on long enough and it is supposed to be about the demos for Pygmalion. Well, the demos bear little relation to the actual album. It is obvious that the band had an overflow of songs and ideas as these demos include many songs left on the cutting floor. Many aren’t even songs, but sketches. However, this collection of demos stands on its own as a viable album, albeit even more ghostly and gloomy as its official brethren.