"Wormwood" (ArtistDirect)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Now the first thing you're asking yourself is "Why is a jam band like moe. being reviewed on Rough Edge?" And the second thing you're asking yourself is "Why the hell is Kelter, of all people, writing a review of a moe. record?"

The answer to the first question is easy. Everyone at Rough Edge, to one degree or another, is well versed in the variety of music, heavy or not, that is available across the wide spectrum of the musical oeuvre. Besides, all of us generally like almost any guitar based music. Moe. certainly has that angle covered.

The second question isn't as easy to answer. I am not much of a fan of 'jam band' music. However, I do like some of the more blues/classic rock influenced bands that sometimes get lumped into the 'jam band' genre - the Black Crowes are a prime example. However, I've not gone head over heels crazy for bands like the Grateful Dead or any of the modern heirs to the throne once occupied by the Dead (Phish, The Disco Biscuits, or Medeski, Martin, & Wood just to name a few).

A little background on moe. is in order. moe. formed in the early '90s and is quite popular on the touring circuit as most jam bands are. One jam band-related website has a poll that asks its visitors what band they're listening to as they check the site out: moe. came in an impressive second place ahead of the jam band phenoms Phish. Come to think of it, I realize now that I do see a lot of moe. bumper stickers while I'm out on the road - they must be pretty popular.

It is my understanding that "Wormwood" is an attempt at capturing the elusive 'live vibe' in a studio recording. But the big question is how would this concept be achieved? moe. chose to use the 'segue jams' that they played between songs in concerts as the source for their new songs - finally, moe. would edit and overdub the rest.

The results on "Wormwood" are impressive. Although most hard rock and heavy metal fans aren't going to give moe. a second thought after reading this review, I politely request that any fan of any kind of music should, at the very least, hear me out. What could have been a terrible mess actually turns out to be a finely crafted album. Now I have nothing, absolutely nothing, from moe.'s back catalog to compare "Wormwood" to, so writing a review is a bit difficult.

"Wormwood" is like one big seamless track. There are fourteen tracks on "Wormwood" - many are just like regular songs and others are similar to the segues jam bands play between songs in concert. The heavier songs on "Wormwood" echo Pearl Jam to some degree while some of the mellower material sounds like Dave Matthews Band. But what really matters is the energy that is truly evident in this recording. "Wormwood" lacks a certain amount of polish, but I think that was the point. Even despite overdubs and studio trickery the organic nature of the material on "Wormwood" is probably a good representation of the band's live vibe and studio capabilities in one cohesive package.

Finally, it's easy enough to say that "Wormwood" is captivating and enjoyable to listen to.

"Wormwood" was produced by moe.

moe. is Rob Derhak on vocals and bass, Chuck Garvey on vocals and guitar, Al Schnier on guitars, Jim Loughlin on percussion, and Vinnie Amico on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400 .