We need more rock!
The good ol’ warcry again rang out after too much metal ravaged our ears somewhat fierce lately. That devout wish combined itself with an urge to clean up our database with reviews we might have missed over time. And that’s how Marisa and the Moths (re)appeared on our radar with their self-titled 2019 piece.
There’s a ton of Grunge Rock outfits out there. Most of them wanting a slice of the long-gone masters of all time. The band that somehow became the stick by which everything with the grunge label needs to be measured.
Now, I searched far and wide for a band that somehow sported that kind of charisma. But not by being a copycat, far from it. Rather a standalone band that will carry that torch further down the road.
Well, the RMR deckhands are happy that MATM somehow bubbled to the surface yet again. Their debut album is one pig-headed work of art. And yet again, we got ourselves a band that makes music and ain’t all that bothered by stylish boundaries. And they rushed onto the scene pretty much without notice. Fully formed and with few apparent flaws, like those moths once they emerge from that mysterious cocoon.
Grunge is often present, true. And they subtly included that element in a way that we found really delicious. But we surely relished the nearness to Punk Rock that often emerges and effortlessly mingles with Heavy and Hard Rock. Together with folksier and alternative passages, plus a few quiet moments that are hard to just glance over.
Marisa Rodriguez and her slightly smoky voice provide that perfect storm that keeps on giving. It’s funny, in the midst of all that often gothically tainted vocal attack, suddenly she starts grating away like Lzzy Hale. True, the comparison only works for Hale’s quieter moments. But the reference is – indeed – striking, not often but often enough. In other words, we got ourselves another stellar female vocalist whose elastic voice and technique work for the hard ‘n’ heavy, as it would for RnB. Even if – at times – Ms. Rodriguez here seems to battle breathing problems.
Now, Halestorm is not the only reference we picked up. The band also sends ya some pretty artful hints to the likes of Nirvana, Foo Fighters1), and – yes – Soundgarden. The heavy name-dropping doesn’t mean Marisa and the Moths just copied stuff. Instead, they took inspiration from an oversaturated genre and mixed it well with their very own ideas.
Let me also point out the pretty sturdy guitar work that operates as well in the Heavy Rock arena as it does out there where the alternative and – yes – progressive vibes live. Sophie Lloyd‘s soaring (and at times almost metallic) solos and thoughtful riffs often don’t seem to belong in this piece. That the lead is seconded by two more guitars explains the often almost overwhelming intensity of strings MATM throws at you.
Yet again, all that jazz strangely fits with that jambalaya of styles, rhythms, and that scratchy and fascinating vocal delivery. Also, the band ain’t yet fully with the weirdos of the alt-rock movement, but they’re getting close. That said, forays into alt-Netherland done with serious rock ‘n’ roll will always sound much better to this reviewer’s merciless ears. Because many of the other bands operating out there compensate bad quality with outrageous behavior2). And it sometimes works, I give them that. Yet, not many will be able to reach the kind of caliber that this band displays.
Now, if you look for the essence of the album, Needy should probably be your choice. The subdued grunge is truly endearing and you’ll get a taste of the filth the band so aptly advertises3). Whenever I fired this one up, I couldn’t help but be pulled back into the ’90s with their steamy and always slightly grimy airs of sleazy rock. And that’s a friggin’ compliment, by the way.
Skin together with Choke are those two filet pieces that truly stuck with me. Hale-ish smoothness switches sides with truly rough emotion that comes with a blitzkrieg of alt-rock and prog rhythms. Those two indeed played on our mighty music machine on an endless loop for a while.
Ultimately, the RMR crew here is truly sad that we didn’t pick up Marisa and the Moths‘s pretty epic debut album in 2019. But hey, never too late for dessert, right? This is one stellar record that took us by storm once we really dug into it. Filthy, scratchy, often deliciously mean, and firmly anchored in an abundance of red-hot rock. This band is living proof that the new grunge and alt-rock movements are still alive and kicking.
But will they be able to deliver something equally juicy for their sophomore full-length? I guess we will find out in early 2022. Let’s have it.
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 15 November 2019