Jambands take plenty of heat from music snobs, but moe. can fly the flag proudly
The Conch extends the confident experimentation of 2003's Jammy Award-winning Wormwood, as these Bonaroo mainstays explore the farthest corners of their hodgepodge sound. Blending jazz-inflected piano, creamy lead guitar, Jim Loughlin's Afro-Cuban percussion and falsetto pop harmonies, "Blue Jeans Pizza" hints at the meticulous pop of Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years," while crafting a springboard for the type of live improvisation that sends moe.rons spinning into tie-dyed nirvana. Bassist Rob Derhak shares keyboard and vocal duties with guitarists Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier, so there's no shortage of melodic input for free-ranging excursions like "Down Boy," which fits funk-stabbed verses against Deadhead country-rock ramble. The album's title refers to the talisman in Lord of the Flies, which grants its bearer the right to express his views. Garvey's "Wind It Up" lyric celebrates the beauty of collaboration; moe.'s peak moments occur when the conch is passed like a hot potato.