Moccasin – Last Leaf

Moccasin
Last Leaf

Denver’s Moccasin brings dark moody rock and roll that is fairly non-existent and underappreciated in today’s indie music scene. Luckily, the band changed its name from the remarkably wimpy (but I am sure there is a good story behind it) Nightingale to Moccasin. Like a moccasin, the band treads across various spectrums of musical landscapes yet amazingly ties each song into an amazing tight album named Album Leaf.

Where Moccasin succeeds is where other bands fail. Lead singer and guitarist Ryan Sniegowski has a cool, dark voice that seems straightforward yet innocently devoid of gimmick. I hate to say it, but combining Sniegowski’s voice with the rest of the band reminds me of early small club and pre-Stones covering Verve. What both bands have in common is their tight sound. The bass (Eddie Dugan) and drums (James Barone) complement each other almost perfectly. The other guitarist, Scott Bagus, brings a whirlwind of psych-rock influence to the table.

Album Leaf starts off with “Ezra’s Ghost,” a beautiful tune that induced me into believing that, with just enough concentration, I could levitate off the ground. Very few bands have the ability to induce a drug-like haze as Moccasin does. Perhaps the secret is in the guitarists’ own self-made guitar pedals, which the band is rumored to have used and passed on to other bands. So, it might be easy for the initiated to place this band into a stoner-rock category, but I gather Moccasin is just a tad too loud and deep for a fan of stoner rock. In fact, Moccasin sounds much better than that boring rich-boy LA pseudo-shoegaze band that came on to the scene earlier this decade.

“Above the Sound” is probably my favorite track off of this album, as it is as close to a perfect song as I have heard in quite some time, not to mention it goes perfectly with the potential thunderstorm that is brewing outside of my house at this very moment. The whole band just clicks at this moment and makes my hair stand up on my arms. The song combines elements of Ride, Mercury Rev, and Swervedriver and all other bands of that ilk that never got their due praise other than the odd under-appreciated album mentions in whichever music magazine was relevant at that time.

While I could go through each song and throw unadulterated praise at the band, there is one area I would like the band to try to develop/improve in the next album. First would be the vocals. The vocals are smooth, dreamy, and clean throughout the album. One song of dirty devilish not-so-polished vocals would, in my opinion, fit in well and not ruin the atmosphere of the songs and, most importantly, the album.

Last Leaf is one of my favorite albums of the year. I can remember the last time I felt like a band of this genre would become the darlings of fickle-minded music fans around the globe. It was the early 90s. I imagine this band is a complete mindfuck live. I am looking forward to the next album and an East Coast tour.