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Moodroom: Hung Up on Breathing

Jason Thompson


Hung Up on Breathing

Label: Fowl
US Release Date: 2002-03-12
UK Release Date: Available as import

There's a high level of sexiness built in to Moodroom's debut disc Hung Up on Breathing. This Washington DC band has what it takes to make emotional, sensual rock with the perfect energy level that changes from song to song. Fronted by the highly appealing Stef Margo, Moodroom have turned out a terrific album here, one that is sure to attract a myriad of rock fans looking for something different from the norm.

That is not to say that Moodroom are way out there or anything like that, but what they have done is gone back to the basic rock drawing board and painted in their own hues of no-nonsense power rock that is becoming a rare art form these days as labels struggle to decide what the next big trend will be in popular music. If for once they'd just sit down and check bands like this out once in a while, the answer would all become quite clear.

Rarely do bands mix up the guitars and keyboards with such panache these days, but Moodroom have no difficulty at all in that respect. In the opening "Loving", keyboardist Jay Hardin's deep synth pulses wrap around Margo's seductive musings, culminating in an outright killer track. The rest of the band (with Gene Diotalevi on guitars, Sean Saley on drums, and Mike Wolpe on bass and sample programming) winds tightly into the mix, creating a tantalizing tension that is further explored throughout the rest of the album.

The best tune here is the instantly likable "E-Song". It's sort of in the same vein as Echobelly's classic track "King of the Kerb", with Stef Margo's voice flying high over the music as the band kicks in to overdrive when she sings the "sunshine me down" choruses. If you need the proof that Moodroom could be very, very big, then look no further than this track right here. In fact, one would think that the song would be programmed closer to the beginning of the album, but its appearance in the middle certainly makes for one lovely surprise nevertheless.

Other highlights include the throbbing "Open Minded" that sounds like it might burst at any moment, the sugar rush of "Connection", with terrific vocal harmonies, snarling guitars, and more terrific synth work, and the breathy "Declined" that proves Stef Margo can handle all sorts of vocal gymnastics and come out on top easily. Time and again this group explodes forth with so much indelible power that one can only wonder why they haven't become a national breakout act. With an album like this, it would be hard not to attract some serious attention.

If there is one complaint to be had, it's that the disc runs a little too long perhaps. Hung Up on Breathing is one of those albums that piles on the tracks, weighing in at a total of 15 in all. And while all of the songs are enjoyable, there are a couple weaker tracks such as "Safe in the Sound" and "Conversation" that feel like they could have been easily cut with no harm done to the rest of the disc. Still, they do make a nice counterbalance to the gorgeous "Vibes" and beautiful "Vivid Blurry", that their inclusion makes sense in the overall picture.

It would be wonderful to see this group get a lot of attention and some serious radio play. If those in command overlook this album, then another disservice to great rock music has been served. And while that might not be a big surprise these days, it is still no excuse. There's no need to keep the great bands contained while all the other groups that should be in the ruts by now reap all the rewards. So do yourself and Moodroom a favor and check out their excellent Hung Up on Breathing. This one's guaranteed to stay in your CD player for quite a while.

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