SOUL03    THEE MOTHS "The Need "


from Bliss/Aquamarine

S.O.U.L., or Sides of Unequal Length, is a new tape label started by the people at Victory Garden Records. Great to know that there are still people interested enough in tape labels to start new ones! Thee Moths are a rather good lo-fi duo consisting of Alex and Dominique. Snails is a mixture of minimalist pop and really loud guitar noise. Telephone Song has a chugging, powerpop type instrumental but the song itself is 80s style twee pop meets melancholic dark folk - coming across like a cross between Talulah Gosh and Mothburner. Nation of Shania is an instrumental with violin, banjo and rumbling bass. Trees and Rain is indie-folk-pop with shades of The Carousel, but much more lo-fi. Your Everywhere is powerpop. (a thing) is minimal pop meets powerpop meets mega-noisy stuff, with a really strong, memorable tune. Come Back To Me is atmospheric folk-tinged noisepop. Now String is indie-folk-pop with two lots of drumming, one lot played backwards. In Shadow & Light is dark folk. Chains is minimal melancholic pop in the Frank Peck/Brighter vein, but with real drums instead of a drum machine. Then the song gets REALLY REALLY noisy, with huge feedbacking guitar of the sort you'd never hear in a Frank Peck or Brighter song. Don't Tempt the Tears is a noisy instrumental that follows on from the end of Chains. 3 Tone Drum Jumble is an experimental instrumental based on drum machine and pulses of noise. Not as irritating as that description sounds though. The Voice is melancholic indiepop meets folk with a few noisyish bits, like a noisier, folkier Frank Peck. Then there's a vocals only piece that's really effective, part of it has the feel of a medieval choral piece. The Need is experimental/post-rock with quiet, almost whispered vocals. Cote Des Neigs Subway actually is a recording of the sounds of that place. Rather lo-fi but the songs themselves are really good - I'd like to hear more from this band. Band info from info@theemoths.co.uk

from Stolenwine

Alex Botten left Peel favourites Magnetic North Pole a couple of years ago, and, disillusioned with their sound and playing in general, he decided to give up music for good. Fortunately this didn't last. While visiting Montreal to see long-time e-mail buddy (and now girlfriend) Dominique, they decided to form Thee Moths - a band who wouldn't let the small matter of the Atlantic Ocean get in the way of recording their debut LP.

Are you thinking this is sounding a bit Looper all over again? Well you'd be wrong, firstly because Alex and Dominique don't sing every song ad nauseam about writing a thousand letters a day and then finally sharing their home with a stray cat called Elvis, and secondly because Thee Moths are actually pretty damn good. "The Need", with Alex's parts recorded in Dundee and Dominique's in Montreal, is a lo-fi exploration of eclecticism - almost every track trying to introduce another influence or idea. I've frequently heard Eric's Trip and Sonic Youth mentioned in relation to Thee Moths, but I wasn't expecting it to make me think of so many different bands and so many different musical styles.

"The Need" does reference a lot of American bands, but not the American bands I expected. Tracks like the Dominique-sung "The Telephone Song" are fantastic blasts through three minutes of fuzz - imagine The Apples in Stereo have stood on all the pedals at the same time - careering through guitar noise and melodic vocals that somehow come together into great pop songs. Peppering the record are also gentler, folk-tinged tracks like "Trees and Rain" and "Now String" - some instrumental and some with vocals. These no doubt stem from their self-proclaimed love of Simon and Garfunkel, but also recall modern folk-touched indie from both sides of the Atlantic, including (surprisingly) Manchester's Alfie and the magnificent Bright Eyes, albeit without anything like Connor Oberst's demented singing.

For the most part Dominique's vocals work better than Alex's, but on the tracks where he allows his delivery to become fragile, desperate and, if you'll excuse the pun, needy, the results are stunning. "(A Thing)" and "Chains" are easily among the best tracks here, both containing all the fractured beauty of Galaxie 500, but with far more sophistication and variation. If he could capture this same feeling on the other songs he sings, Alex would be on to something consistently special.

I was a little nervous of this album before listening to it because it came with a lot of baggage of how lo-fi it is - I was half expecting 45 minutes of feedback with inaudible mumbling behind it. I'm glad that this wasn't the case at all. Certainly, the conditions under which it was recorded have left it a little rough around the edges in places, but on many of the songs this has actually added to their charm. Although most of the arrangements are simple, "The Need" never gets boring - you never find yourself thinking "this would be great with a lead guitar part" or "some piano in the chorus would really twist things up a bit". But then I guess that's the real trick - letting the songs speak for themselves and not overcrowding them.

You need to get a copy of "The Need". [Jon Armstrong]

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