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Perhapst | In Music We Trust
By SAM UBL  |  August 19, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
Former Jick and Decemberist John Moen drummed his way into two of the highest-profile indie bands of the past decade, so it’s a wonder he’s not making more noise with yet another outfit from Portland, Oregon, especially since he leads this one. To hear him tell it, you’d think Moen had decided to release these 11 long-cellared songs only to appease wheedling relatives. To say he’s not a leading-man type is an understatement, but his modesty comes with a hint of disingenuousness: these are no dilettante’s ditties, and he must know it. Still, the record thrives off the sort of spotlight-shunning humility out of which an adroit drummer might politely decline to take a solo. Using his downy, helium-thin voice to puff charming choruses, Moen appropriates innumerable classic moves: plucky alt-country on “Maryanne,” gaunt Stonesy swagger/stagger on “Incense Cone,” breezily fuzzed-out Tom Petty on “Harbour.” There’s even a stoned campfire lullaby in “Hyper Planets,” which heaves with the purling of woodsy guitar work. The music is never more groggy than relaxed and never more awake than blissed-out. Moen’s lyrics all but disappear amid the pretty scenery, but he keeps the instrumentation light and focused enough to preserve the often mood-defying lines, like this apparent Thanksgiving recipe: “Cook yourself and spare the bird.”
  Topics: CD Reviews , John Moen , Sam Ubl , Tom Petty
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