The Moore Brothers: Aptos

By: Dennis Cook

If raw talent equaled success then you'd already know Greg and Thom Moore. Since the mid-90s these siblings have been sculpting some of the loveliest, oddest pop confections ever. Yes, ever. In their quiet way, The Moore Brothers make music that endures and enchants, and they do so with a consistency that's mighty rare. Their fifth full-length, Aptos (released March 3 on American Dust), is the kind one can imagine Nick Lowe or Elvis Costello spinning endlessly in their car. They take the simplicity of boys with guitars and big, sensitive hearts and minds and give it jagged individuality. Sweet as they are, they ain't sentimental or obvious, waltzing us through the lives of cops and war widows, riding hoods and feather daughters, painting each scene with assured detail.

Like most Moore Brothers' albums, Aptos leaves one feeling wistful like the hours right after a date, where one counts kisses, parses conversations and wonders if they are really as big a goof as they fear. This time they've beefed up their usual acoustic guitar platform with some subtle, effective rhythm from Neal Morgan (drums, percussion) and Jun Ohnuki (bass), as well some harp from pal Joanna Newsom on the lilting, shivery "Good Heart, Money And Rain." With California '60s/'70s Golden Age harmonies (think Poco, Crosby/Nash, Eagles, et al.) and a knack for lingering melodies and haunting verses, one wonders why the world doesn't know their name as these 14 tracks rock you so expertly. There's an artful symmetry to their work that compares nicely with Elliott Smith and John Lennon, though far less touched by their melancholy, though fully in touch with their humor and insightful self-examination. Dissecting their songs takes ages, if one ever gets to the center of their lolli at all. But each time you hold the hand of "Henry Alexander" or skip to "Obviously" you may find yourself a touch more smitten and a touch wiser in ways you can't quite place. Thus is the genius of the Brothers Moore – a slow gin fizz for romantics too smart for romance but aching to connect just the same.

JamBase | Northern California
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[Published on: 4/22/09]

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