For some post-baby boomers, jam bands have become a refuge from angst rock -- a place to go when they are in the mood for bands who are congenial instead of angry and don't live and breathe angst 100 percent of the time. In other words, many of these Grateful Dead-loving, New Riders of the Purple Sage-worshipping outfits are, to some Gen-X-ers, an alternative to alternative. Moses Guest
is one of those laid-back, generally good-natured '90s/2000s jam bands who has a '60s/'70s outlook and a strong appreciation of the Grateful Dead. But the Dead aren't Moses Guest's only influence, and this self-titled double CD isn't as jam-minded as some might assume. In the past, some of the band's work has meandered -- with jam bands, meandering often comes with the territory. And because Moses Guest
contains two CDs, some will assume that the Houston combo needed more space to accommodate more jamming and more improvising. But surprisingly, this release does not offer an excess of extended jamming. The Texans put most of their energy into honest-to-God songwriting -- not blowing -- and tracks like "Rag Doll" and "Saint Mo" are appealingly tuneful. The Grateful Dead and the New Riders are strong influences, but so are the Band
, the Allman Brothers
, and Little Feat
(a Grateful Dead spin-off from the '70s) is a valid comparison, but so is Bruce Hornsby
. While some jam bands are content to emulate the late Jerry Garcia
and his associates, Moses Guest brings many different influences to the table. One of the impressive things about this release is the fact that it has very little filler -- the Texans manage to remain interesting (for the most part) for almost two hours, and this double CD demonstrates that they are among the more noteworthy acts in the jam band scene.