The Moore Brothers: On & Out

Jason MacNeil

The Moore Brothers

On & Out

Label: Amazing Grease
US Release Date: 2003-03-23

The Moore Brothers are Greg and Thom Moore. Growing up in California and sharing a bedroom as kids, the pair hated the idea so much that they've decided to share an apartment together as well as a love of music. Having opened up for the who's who of eclecticism including the Soft Boys, Big Star, and Cat Power, the Moore Brothers are now finally making their debut album. "The Moore Brothers hope that you will listen to On & Out, and are looking forward to releasing 46 more albums", the press bio says. Judging by the 14 tracks they've offered up here, they might be able to make those 46 albums in the next 46 weeks. Or days even.

Beginning with the title track, you feel like you've been thrown back in time, either to the 1960s or possibly the Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do. While it's only a half-minute opening, it sets the tone for this retrospective sound. "She's had enough and she's leaving for good this time", go the lyrics on "Have You Seen Sorrow?" If Matthew Sweet or Velvet Crush decided to go back to an Austin Powers-like era, this would be the sound -- sweet harmonies in front of subtle '60s riffs and a minimal, monotonous drumbeat. That isn't to say that it's necessarily a bad thing, but there isn't much oomph in the early tracks, which often clock in at less than two minutes each.

"Sad & Joy" follows the same blueprint, with the song concluding at the same time the listener may believe it's just getting off the ground. This particular track opens with a subtle Beatles ballad format, although it also brings Liam Gallagher to mind. The "ba ba"s also seems a bit weak while the acoustic guitar is the main instrument used. These actually sound like unfinished Brian Wilson ideas when he was in his "relaxed" phase. Again, the song just fades out with no real conclusion. "Tiny Bongs" has more punch and bite to it, with the high vocals nailed for the first time. The track has a certain melodic groove that resembles Tommy James & the Shondells. "Your love gives me brilliant colors" only adds to the psychedelic effect. The song moves into a dub-like vibe as it wraps up.

"Waves" is more of a music box lullaby, the type of song that would put you to sleep after a long day. It's nearly hypnotic at times, particularly when the brothers hit their harmonies. There are a few bum guitar notes and mis-strums throughout, but overall this shows where the brothers could take these generally good songs. Things take a decidedly different turn on the Sgt. Pepper-esque "The Puppet"; with delayed harmonies, the song veers from a friendly pop folk arrangement before taking you down a slower and oddly pleasing tempo. "You Open My Eyes" is disappointing, as the tune takes a few images that are Biblical and mentions American foreign policy as "my destiny". Okay.

"At Times" is more of a folk-like singer-songwriter tune that brings John Sebastian or early Crosby, Stills, and Nash to mind. The Moore Brothers tend to work far better in this setting, allowing their vocals to carry the songs instead of relying on catchy riffs. The quasi-wails halfway in are out of nowhere, though, and diminish the overall effort. "Salton Sea" is an abrupt power pop trek that shines with Weezer-ish tightness before the reggae riff takes over. "It's You" doesn't add up to much as the pair try to paint another pretty picture. On the whole, there is one song that fits the record perfectly -- "Emotional Rollercoaster". There are as many hits as misses on this rather unfinished sounding album.

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