Review: Jack Foley
SOUTH-London based Moke appear well poised to benefit from the
current indie revival which, in turn, could mark something of
a resurgence in their own fortunes.
Having burst onto the scene in 1999 off the back of the critical
success of their debut album, Superdrag, Moke seemed
like they were headed for big things.
Having been picked up by the UK Indie Dorado label, they were
quickly signed to Ultimatum in the US, and toured with the likes
of The Black Crowes and Kings X.
The second album, Carnival, was ready to roll into record
shops in 2001 but then disaster struck.
Ultimatum faced bankruptcy and the funding needed to take Moke
up a level was promised but never materialised, meaning that Moke
- who had now based themselves in America - split and returned
to the UK in 2003.
As a result, Carnival never saw the light of day.
The album is rightly regarded as a lost classic - a musical form
of buried treasure that's just waiting to be unearthed.
It's full of catchy hooks, glorious guitar riffs, and an enticing
blend of furious rock anthems and more slow-building ballad-style
fare, evoking memories of both the Manchester indie scene and
the sun-drenched sound of Californian alt-rock.
Well, thanks to Fruit Pie Records, who have recently signed Moke
lead singer, John Hogg, for his debut solo album, Carnival
is about to see the light of day (as Fruit Pie also cherry-picked
the rights to the album).
The album hits record shops in June and boasts a number of fine
songs, kicking off with the out and out hard rocking style of
My Degeneration and Slide, before calming down
with the lush, indie vibe of Today, a gorgeously laidback
anthem that eases you into a blissed out state.
Liar mixes things up a bit, offsetting a laidback, catchy
chorus with some of the more heavy, Smashing Pumpkins' style guitar
riffs of Charlie Morton.
While the acoustic guitars come to the fore in the chilled out
Strange Days, which bears all the hallmarks of a classic
Hogg's vocals, which bare an uncanny resemblance to Reef's Gary
Stringer at times, adopt a welcome falsetto tone for the intro
to the smouldering So Much Better.
While the acoustics return for the excellent I Don't Mind,
which confirms the band's ability to be diverse and change pace.
It's enticing blend of folksy blues and clap-happy melodies helps
it emerge as one of the album's highlights.
The album ends on a louder note, with the distinctly American
sounding Fluicide wrapping things up in impressive style
- all foreboding guitars and distorted vocals that provoke welcome
memories of some really big bands.
It shows that Moke could have realised their potential in grand
style - let's hope this second shot at glory doesn't prove so
Now that the Carnival has been revived, it's well worth
joining the procession to buy it.