Featured Music: Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Loaded Moses
Sat at the Aardvark, 2905 W Berry St, FW. 817-926-7814.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
High-Pro Glow

The Loaded Moses sound is dark and foreboding, but the band’s future is bright.

By JONATHAN ROSE

Hard-rocking Loaded Moses is showing a newfound earnestness with the recent release of a full-length album. This is all coming from musicians who have never recorded a full-length disc together and were actually thinking about disbanding after losing their lead singer a little more than three years ago.

After the loss, the remaining members started posting ads and holding auditions. Nothing worked out. “A bunch of crazy people showed up,” said guitarist Brad Cagle. “Nothing we saw really fit.” By chance one day the band bumped into Alex Starr, an old friend from another group. Loaded Moses invited him to rehearse. The first night Starr played with the band, he says, he “knew it was meant to be.”

Starr now leads the group, while Cagle and Chad Beck supply the guitar work. The rhythm section is bassist Anthony Barber and drummer Hayes Crouse. Each musician contributes to the songwriting process. Producer Barry Saling truly believes in the band, and Soundvision Production has become the group’s second home.

In song production choices, Cagle said, “We always look for outside opinions because we can be biased at times.” Granting the band members’ revulsion to “big production control,” you know these are musicians who want to learn a thing or two about piecing together a Big Rock sound. “Sometimes you get people involved and they want to mold it a certain way, and you have to kind of control that,” said Cagle. “We have to work with that, and it helps that we have an easygoing producer”

Loaded Moses’ long labored debut album, The Afterglow, is chock full of hard, dusky tracks that betray an alternative sensibility couched in modern metal bass tones, charged power chords, and rolling, lead-footed percussion. The intermittent guitar flow provides counterpoint to the bass-heavy riffage, and this dynamic suits the dark vibes of the album perfectly. The heavier numbers actually won out over the “lighter” ones when band members were selecting songs to include on the record.

“When we recorded them, the ones that really popped went on the album,” said Cagle. The disc is progressively poppy but full of those calculated, weighty rhythms that you hear in most hard, radio-friendly alt-rock. The lush guitar tones complement Starr’s voice well. You can sense the explosiveness in his pipes, especially on the opener, “Message.” The songs on The Afterglow seem to culminate in sporadic outbursts like atomic hiccups. These outbursts can be intoxicating, and the exclamation points that Starr adds maintain the drama, especially on “Brutal Eyes,” where the darker side comes to life, and these outbursts serve their purpose.

Starr has the misunderstood guy thing down pat — he quietly narrates one moment, then roars the next. His shape-shifting vocals play well off the instruments, while an ever-present dread lurks at the back of each song. Starr said he gets inspiration from every corner of the smart-pop spectrum, “from Tori Amos to System of a Down.” Despite all the dread and dark, brooding notes, in a live setting, the band members come off as thankful, sincere professionals. In an intimate setting or a large venue, Loaded Moses is likely going to come across as the honest, hardworking band it strives to be.

A sophomore album is in the works, and the band plans to put out a third record within the next year or two. The next work may be a touch softer, but if the band’s rehearsals are any indication, Loaded Moses will remain hard, if not a little more lo-fi. They might consider putting an acoustic song on the next disc — if “it crosses over and still sounds good,” said Barber. “It may be an even better sound for us.”


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