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For better or for worse, moe. has always been a live band. Studio albums from such groups have a tradition of being iffy affairs, as the musicians involved suddenly find themselves without an audience, without applause, and without the artistic license to improvise to their hearts' content. During the early 2000s, moe. battled the confinements of the studio by combining live performances with recorded tracks, creating a sort of compromise between the flexibility of a live show and the crispness of a studio product. Albums like Wormwood and Conch benefited from this approach, but 2008's Sticks and Stones is a different animal entirely. Recorded in three short weeks inside a New England church, it focuses exclusively on moe. as a studio outfit. The group's songwriting has matured since the '90s (when the majority of their studio work was released), which helps Sticks and Stones come across as a progressive step forward despite its relaxed, somewhat subdued sound. There are no extended drum solos here, no improvised guitar riffs, and only a handful of long, instrumental passages. Instead, the quintet channels the radio-ready classic rock of the Grateful Dead and the Eagles, complete with pleasing (if slightly imperfect) harmonies, tight songcraft, and plenty of guitar muscle. Working with the studio rather than in spite of it, the band pulls of a number of tricks that simply wouldn't work in a live setting, from the acoustic fretwork of "September" (one of the most haunting, striking ballads they've ever attempted) to the footstomps and fiddles of the Celtic drinking song "Raise Your Glass." The tunes are short and concise, with as much emphasis placed on the bandmates' vocals -- which sound better here than they ever do live -- as their instrumental skills. So while Sticks and Stones is a change from the band's live catalog, it's certainly a welcome one, and it's been years since moe. sounded this well rounded.
|Label:||Fat Boy Records|
Performance Creditsmoe. Primary Artist
Rob Derhak Bass,Vocals,Group Member
Chuck Garvey Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Schnier Guitar,Mandolin,Accordion,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Jim Loughlin Percussion,Marimbas,Vocals,Vibes,Group Member
Nadine LaFond Background Vocals
Allie Kral Strings
Technical CreditsJohn Siket Producer,Engineer