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Album review: Thee Water MoccaSins - … from the Rivers of Missouri and the Banks of Fear

Album review: Thee Water MoccaSins - … from the Rivers of Missouri and the Banks of Fear

If I didn’t know that this band was a supergroup of KC stalwarts, I wouldn’t have any idea exactly who or what Thee Water MoccaSins is. I can only assume they like to keep it this way. There are no members listed on their “official” places on the web, there are no pictures that aren’t foggy, off centered, or purposefully blurred.  They are truly as abstract as they try to appear.  It is purposeful mystery, in that emo-adorable kind of way.  They give you no choice but to not focus on who they are, but more importantly what they do.

The band describes itself as “electro-psych fractal pop”.  Hmm.  Electro.  Psych.  Fractal.  Pop.  Sounds … heady.  And with the “Description” field on their Facebook being a link to the philosophy of randomness, their hometown being a link to “The Tree of Life Web Project”, and their own admission from their website that the whole thing was started “as a lark”, I find myself struggling to determine whether these are a group of earth-loving, deeper-than-thou intellectuals or if they’re just fucking with me.

Don’t worry, I really do understand it, but do I believe it?  I think I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and go with the grand idea they propose.  After all, it’s a glass nearly full kind of day.

But like I said before, it’s not how they present it, it’s how they do it.  And Thee Water MoccaSins does it well. …from the Rivers of Missouri and the Banks of Fear is a solid album clearly made by people that know how to make records.  The songs share just enough structure and whimsy to keep both camps happy. The rocking parts keep the tattooed hipsters interested while the sometimes-bordering-cheesy 80’s synths give hope to that guy in the back of the bar still hoping Ric Ocasek has another Candy-O in him.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this album is its ability to be blatantly influenced throughout, yet end up a cohesive and unique-sounding record in the end. Thee Water MoccaSins spin specific elements from all eras of rock history into something that walks on its own feet.

The opening track, “In the City”, sounds like The Who sharing a brown liquor drink (no ice, please) with a methed-out bumpkin as sung by Robert Smith.  It is clear this band understands the importance of having a solid and rocking album opener and they have most certainly achieved it.

Often the tracks space out into structured musical strains that test the limits of the fairly simple electronic elements beneath.  The songwriting stays fairly formulaic throughout, “Holy Roller” being the exception. This track eventually breaks the mold a bit, and features a more playful back and forth between the instrumentation and vocals.  It sounds much more purposeful than the occasional random chaos in other songs.

“Diablo Diablo” is the standout track for me. It starts akin to the others, but ends up being the best usage of vocals on the album, both for melody and effect. Also being lyrically the most accessible of these songs, it’s the one I find myself humming hours after listening.

All in all, Thee Water MoccaSins has made a very solid record.  Regardless of whether you appreciate the existentialism and verisimilitude, these electronic-tinged rock grooves will keep your ears pleased.

-Zach Hodson

Zach is a lifetime Kansas City resident who plays multiple instruments and sings in Dolls on Fire, as well as contributing to many other Kansas City music, art, and comedy projects.  He is very fond of edamame, treats his cat Wiley better than he treats himself, and doesn't want to see pictures of your newborn child (seriously, it looks like a potato).


Published: June 13, 2012 |

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