The Incredible Moses Leroy: Electric Pocket Radio

The Incredible Moses Leroy
Electric Pocket Radio

The Green and Yellow TV
As Performed By

by Jason Thompson

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Flavors of the Month

Quite a bit of buzz has been brewing for both The Green and Yellow TV and The Incredible Moses Leroy. If you were to throw caution to the wind and believe every word that their respective press kits contain, you’d think that both artists were vying for the Second Coming in pop rock. Both acts rely heavily on the sounds of yesteryear, and both show a fine amount of talent. However, if it were up to me to declare a winner, the trophy would most definitely go to The Incredible Moses Leroy. But more on that in a moment.

Radio God John Peel apparently loves The Green and Yellow TV. He put As Performed By‘s opening cut “The Big Red Machine” into heavy rotation on his own play list. Likewise, selected the same track for one of their “Revolutionary Recommendation” selections. This is pretty good for an indie band, no? Of course it is, but I just can’t help feeling that The Green and Yellow TV hasn’t found their own sound yet. While their “Beatlesque” — beware of that label, kids, most times it’s pretty far off the mark — pop is, well, “Beatlesque” at times, it sounds like the band is too busy trying to reconstruct their heroes and not paying enough attention to developing their own style.

Lead singer and guitarist Todd O’Keefe sounds like a cross between John Lennon, Chris Collingwood (Fountains of Wayne), Elliott Smith, and Trent Reznor. If that sounds schizophrenic already, it’s all right because the music itself is also often a confused mass of classic rock influence. But the problem here is that The Green and Yellow TV sounds like a Xerox of another band copying their heroes, most notably Jellyfish (who still did it better). And while plenty of these songs feature bouncy piano rhythms and Lennon-esque nasally vocals, there isn’t one entire tune that jumps out at me. “Betty” is probably the best of the lot. Other cuts, like “Plays the Song” and “Coats” strive for greatness, but they get too entangled in their own grand designs. Maybe not so many intricate chord changes next time around, boys. It is OK to be accessible for more than the first verse, after all. Perhaps it’s just my ears, but As Performed By didn’t hit me as hard as it has others.

On the other hand, The Incredible Moses Leroy’s Electric Pocket Radio is quite a lot of fun. In Leroy’s (real name: Ron Fountainberry) case, sampling from past greats works to great advantage here. But then again, he has found his own voice within his own version of replaying the classics. You won’t find the Beatles lurking about the grooves of this album so much as you will such eclectic tastes as Esquivel, Pizzicato Five, Os Mutantes, Gary Numan, the Smashing Pumpkins, Kraftwerk, etc. Yes, it’s a cool hybrid of more recent and offbeat “classic rock”.

Leroy has a pleasant voice, one that floats softly over the music. It’s “dreamy” as Jan Brady might say. He also plays the majority of the music, which changes quite impressively from track to track. Occasionally, such musicians as bassist Kristian Dunn, drummer Joey Waronker, and guitarist Pramod Tummala come by and help out, but really all the songs here sound like one gigantic and colorful wash. And truly, the very best songs, such as the beautiful “Anthem”, the buzzing “1983”, and the flat-out grooviness of “It’s a Sunday” and “Treble” all reach magnificent heights because of that wash. Leroy’s talents are as sophisticated as that of other D.I.Y. whiz kids like Todd Rundgren. His pop smarts are sharp and bright, but never too flashy.

A couple of the more offbeat tracks like the opening “Beep Beep Love” and “Our One Millionth Customer” seem to go on a bit long, but that’s not much of a complaint considering the fact that the majority of this disc is really great. Equal credit for the crisp sound must also go to producers Keith Cleversley, Joey Waronker, and Wally Gagel. This trio of gentlemen has worked with everyone from the Flaming Lips to Beck and the Eels. Moses Leroy is certainly in good hands here. As it stands, Electric Pocket Radio is a very impressive debut and will no doubt be a perfect soundtrack to the Spring and Summer of 2001.