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Grant Moser

Grant Moser is an art writer and frequent contributing writer for the Brooklyn Rail.

Is Starbucks Stealing Our Mojo?

Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me centers on Dr. Evil stealing Austin’s mojo (“the life force, the essence, the right stuff.”--- Dr. Evil) to render him ineffective and thus make the world ripe for domination. The plot is hatched as Dr. Evil’s headquarters, the Space Needle in Seattle; which happens to be decorated with the Starbuck’s logo.

Autumn in New York

“We’re basically extended brothers, all of us,” says a New York City firefighter.

Let the Wave Wash You Over

The French Kicks - "relax sweetie while you’re still around", and Inouk - "we cross the wild"

Brought to You by the Letter G

The Apes have crafted a well-done art-rock album that is similar to but more accessible than the Liars, with a slight nod toward Modest Mouse. It is expansive and experimental, incorporating sixties psychedelia into guitar-heavy modern rock, and topping it off with soaring falsetto vocals and a healthy dollop of organ. Picture an Alice in Wonderland dream sequence. This D.C.–based group has a new lead singer, and while I've never heard the previous one, I can’t imagine their sound with anyone else.

Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing

First things first: This is not like the Giraffes’ previous CD (loud, aggressive, in-your-face rock tinged with rage and sex); this EP is a detour (quieter, aggressive, in-your-face rock tinged with rage and sex). Reaching back to their surf-rock-metal roots, the Giraffes come crawling out of the mud and muck with sexy, understated, hypnotic tunes that find your darkest corners, dig their pincers into you, and feed.

The Menagerie That Is New York: A Compilation Overview

I. "turn on your bright lights" The first track of Yes New York— a tribute to the legendary 1978 no-wave comp No New York— is the Strokes’s aptly titled "New York City Cops," immediately letting you know what type of album this is going to be: powerful, hard-hitting, and (mostly) name-brand.

Blasts from the Present

1. "i’ve been living without you" If you hang on to something long enough, it’ll be new again. Fashion inevitably returns to a former state, adapts it some, adds in some new components, and is big again. As we’ve seen over the last few years, music is no different— at least the music getting all the press and front covers.

Evolution: The Streets and Nada Surf

The night we started bombing Iraq I was at Warsaw seeing the Streets. They're a British hip hop group that centers around Mike Skinner, a 23- year-old who has pushed the musical form into new and uncharted territories.

Brought to You by the Letter G

Decemberists, Colin Meloy, and Bishop Allen as reference points. Darnielle doesn’t shy away from letting his imagination explode everywhere on this album: “San Bernadino” is a surprisingly sweet tune about a couple who checks into a roadside motel to give birth in the tub. “Heretic Pride” might be the point of view of the avenging angel at the end of the world who is relieved that it’s finally all over: He “can taste jasmine” again

Brought to You by the Letter G

This is not the Portishead of yore, lulling you with melodies reminiscent of sinking underwater slowly. Remember, these guys have been stewing in their dark, dank, dismal juices for a decade now; they’ve evolved the bittersweet sound of goodbye. Third is, impossible as it may seem, more haunting, sullen, and moody than the group’s previous efforts. And Beth Gibbons’ voice is even more tortured.

Please Enjoy the Music

Selling Out in the Silent Era, by Stereobate, was released in November 2001. I have no idea why I haven’t heard this CD before now.

This One’s For You, Pretty Girl

Seeing Barbez live is a little like seeing the Elephant Man—something disfigured but beautiful. Fusing traditional Russian music, post-punk cabaret flair, pre-Glasnost Eastern Bloc nightclub atmosphere, and a gypsy caravan feel, Barbez excites and tingles the senses.

Exiting Purgatory

Pur•ga•to•ry:…a place or state of punishment wherein…the souls of those who die in God’s grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fir for heaven…

Because We Said So

Reviews of five new albums.

Because We Said So

This has been one of my favorite albums over the past few months. It’s food for my ears. Every time I listen to it, it’s like I’m hearing the songs for the first time. This band is noted for its use of digital bleeps and chirps, but their real strength is a generous use of lush choruses and rich guitar work.

Oneida/Marwood: A Study in Opposites

Upon first hearing Oneida’s double CD, Each One Teach One, I stared at my stereo like it was possessed. The first disc contains two songs: one fourteen-minutes-plus and a second sixteen-minutes-plus. Both are very monotonous songs— imagine a CD on constant skip.

“i want to see your face in the reflection of my bedroom stereo”

It was one of those nasty humid days we experienced all summer, and the sun was setting as I arrived at The Pink Pony on Ludlow. I was there to interview stellastarr*, whose sophomore effort (Harmonies for the Haunted—darker, more mature, and more spacious than their debut release) drops September 13.

Remember Fun?

The 80s revolution is in full force. I even get swept up in the time warp sometimes and want to find a nice checkered pair of Vans.

Honest Is the Best Policy

Heir to a long legacy of gifted singer-songwriters, Brendan Benson writes smart pop. You won’t find bubblegum hooks here, but his songs are definitely catchy.

Underhanded and Blatant

Radio 4 and The Futureheads

Because I Said So

Johnossi is a two-person band (John on guitar, Ossi on drums) that produces loud, stripped-down rock and roll. While comparisons to the White Stripes may be the most logical, they don’t reflect everything about Johnossi.


An amalgamation of Sonic Youth, Pavement, the Beach Boys, the Pixies, nineties alternative, and the occasional nod to the sixties and Motown, Ambulance Ltd. creates demanding songs that you don’t even know are demanding.

Make Me Feel Something

Seductive and moody and oh-so-beautifully textured, the songs of Calla are reflections and shadowy whispers from your hidden corners. Listening to these songs is like sitting at a dark corner table in a basement bar, or being underground with a fallen angel telling you fables, or walking the city on a quiet night, or waking up from a dream and trying to grasp at the fleeting images that just recently occupied your mind.

Live is Good

I caught Girl Harbor at Luxx’s Williams-burg on a Wednesday night. While sporting the standard suits and ties and disheveled haircuts, their energy seemed a cut above the more-produced sound I’ve been hearing lately on the radio. That also seems to be their CD’s biggest downfall—it’s not live. That sound is missing, though the energy is not.

In Conversation

Ambulance LTD's Marcus Congleton with Grant Moser

To call NYC-based Ambulance LTD unstable would be an understatement. Guitarist/lead singer Marcus Congleton has watched a procession of bandmates come and go, with everyone but Congleton himself eventually packing it in. Somehow, in the midst of all this, the band and its first album (2004’s LP) have remained popular, but after four years, people have started wondering when (or if) they could expect more.

Because We Said So

Reviews of Roman Candle’s Wee Hours Review, Chatham County Line Speed of the Whippoorwill, Chris Stills’ When the Pain Dies Down: Live in Paris, The Rosewood Thieves’From the Decker House, and Trainwreck Riders’Lonely Road Revival.

Because we said so

What the Hell Do I Know?Citizen Transparent ThingsFind What You Get EPOpposition Party

Because I Said So

Miracle Fortress: Five Roses (Secret City Records); In Our Nature (Mute); Elk City: New Believers (Friendly Fire); Oh No! Oh My!: Between the Devil and the Sea EP (Dim Mak Records); Black Strobe: Burn Your Own Church (Playlouder Recordings)

Brought to You by the Letter G

If you somehow haven’t found your way to a Giraffes show, make the time. This Brooklyn band is all about rock ’n’ roll like it should be: loud, unruly, drunk, and heart-attack-inducing (literally). And this new album shows them fully in control of their seamy, riff-laden ways. Prime Motivator is a dirty, down-in-the-gutter record.

“Because We Said So”

Adam Green is a darling of the hipster post-art scene and is the man behind the cult hit “Jessica”—a tongue-in-cheek ballad to Jessica Simpson. Somewhere along the way he decided that the public wanted a whole album of music like that. Bad idea.

Brought to You by the Letter G

The Walkmen: You & Me (Gigantic) The Walkmen have come a long way since their first album more than six years ago, and it’s been two years since their last effort—but You & Me was worth the wait. While their tunes still have that feeling of off-kilter carnival music, this time around they’re playing with a new confidence.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2023

All Issues