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Moke - Carnival


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 rock song.

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 elusive.

Now that the Carnival has been revived, it's well worth joining the procession to buy it.

Track listing:
1. My Degeneration
2. Hanging Around
3. Slide
4. Today
5. Liar
6. Strange Days
7. So Much Better
8. I Don’t Mind
9. Magic House
10. Screen
11. Fluicide

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