(Thanks to Chris Traugott for finding this)
REVIEW: Moxy Fruvous, _You Will Go To the Moon_ (Bottom Line)
- Jon Steltenpohl
Fresh, exciting, and eclectic are words that any fan would use to describe Moxy Fruvous. These self-proclaimed "Alternative Folk Heroes from Canada" went from street performers to major stadiums in just a few years. Here in the United States, street performers are a single evolutionary step away from panhandlers. Mostly, we think of mimes doing "the robot" and guys playing saxophone to karaoke tapes.
But in Canada, things are different. Street performers are called "buskers", and a lot of times, they are incredible. Canadians treasure their originality, showmanship, and satirical lyrics. Moxy Fruvous are one of those incredible groups. As the story goes, they were four high-school friends who "took over a Toronto street corner." Their shtick was a kind of improvised and acted out do-wop. They got so popular that they were eventually asked to perform on CBC radio in Canada, and the rest is history.
It's been a few years now since Moxy Fruvous played for donations in a hat, and _You Will Go To the Moon_ continues their transition from a live a cappella group to a recorded band very nicely. Nothing is quite the same as a live Moxy Fruvous show. The guys don't just sing songs - they live them. They make strange faces, jump and spin around, run through the crowd, and generally go nuts. Their rap version of Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham" is a show stopper.
Those who have seen the band live will have no problem getting into _You Will Go To the Moon_. The style flows from Persian jazz to a Bee Gees cover ("I've Gotta Get A Message to You") with invisible fluidity. Those with Moxy Fruvous in their blood will be amazed. Those without Moxy will be puzzled. Add some politically liberal lyrics and a tendency towards an acoustic and a cappella sound, and you'll find that Moxy Fruvous has a small but dedicated fan base.
The opening cut, "Michigan Militia", is pure Moxy. To start with, this _Canadian_ band is slamming a dubious _U.S._ institution! Then, the style of the song is "bluegrass hip-hop". _Deliverance_ style banjos play over a funky bass beat. It's a not-too-subtle poke at mixing backwoods white supremacists with the urban African America they antagonize. There are even samples of barnyard animals quietly "baa"ing in the back of the mix. It takes some massive jewels to poke political satire both across a border and at nationalist gun freaks!
The rest of the album careens from one style to the next. "Get in the Car" (which sounds remarkably similar to The Beatles "Drive my Car") pokes fun at guys who are too attached to their cars. Two quiet waltzes, "Lee" and "Love Set Fire", recall the melancholy piano tunes of Tom Waits, and tell similarly fractured tales of love where the "flames look like angel wings." "Kick in the Ass" is an a cappella treat that offers its title to telemarketers and baggage handlers. It's one song that you just keep humming over and over again.
The bottom line on Moxy Fruvous is that these guys are great artists with a huge range in lyrics and styles. In Canada, that's a big asset, but in the U.S. of A., it doesn't give them an easy way onto the radio. They compare somewhat to Barenaked Ladies. But where Barenaked Ladies travel the narrow road of quirky pop, Moxy Fruvous is all over the map. But, such variety won't surprise current fans of Moxy Fruvous who will be highly pleased with _You Will Go To The Moon_.
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