Photo: Victoria Rich

Amplifier #24 May/June 2001

MOTHS Lepid Opera - LunaSea Records

The opening snarls on Lepid Opera will make you do a double take for Beggar’s Banquet era Mick Jagger, but that’s where the similarity to classic rock ends. Like their Lower East Side of Manhattan ancestors The Velvet Underground, The Moths’s sound is sometimes aggressive and at other times tempered and melodic. Even their song titles borrow from the groundbreaking kings of alternative rock, with tracks like “Walk into the Sun” and “Sunday Morning.” However, the Moths blaze a trail similar to the long lamented Pixies and the ragged glory of Dinosaur Jr. with a driving jagged-edged guitar attack that never seems to run out of fresh ideas. The key to their charisma is the band’s roller coaster use of dynamics, which rise and fall as if they were in a live performance before a packed house. Lyrically, the Moths appeal to alienated outsiders especially with the mix of anger and sadness of “Enthusiastic Loser,” a good crying in your beer at the Rathskellar anthem that’s sure to crack the college radio playlists. “Wesley Willis” is an avant-garde disco rave up that pays tribute to one of Manhattan’s most bizarre street performers. The heavy country twang and faux drawl of “Hibbing” is downright funny, and “Holler” bellows with acrobatic shards of guitar licks that would impress even the most jaded of post-grunge rock stars. ()

-Tom Semioli

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