© 2013 Max Recordings
Good old Little Rock. The Moving Front is three guys that played music for a long time, then this other guy came in for like a second to sing and went to do other stuff no one knows what and no one can really speculate, then this other guy came in and started singing if you could call it that and bossing every one around and kind of took shit over like some kind of a-hole tyrant, then another guy got added and shit got technically better in some aspects but everyone had to readjust to that. Then some people got girlfriends and stopped getting into trouble and some got married while other people got out of really long term relationships and debated whether getting into trouble was worth it in the long run and took the safe route by being generally abrasive. Like anything, it all gets messy but it's still good 'cause this music isn't about that mess anyways. 'Cause it isn't about us. I mean, this paragraph is, because it is about us. It's supposed to be, but the music isn't. Suddenly people started realizing that Little Rock was for real, then the Sun exploded and everyone went to live in a distant star cluster and all the gods of our legends came back all at once and I was there throwing up my hands going "Aw, jeez. What the fuck ever." That's when we knew it was really something. Whatever that thing is. At that point it was 3:32 in the morning and we all had to work the next day.
Much like the BBC World News nightly report, the Moving Front’s new CD clocks in under 30 minutes. Also like the BBC, the MF delivers information and opinion on world politics in a style (accent) that is unmistakably British. The only difference is that the Moving Front, for all their style and intelligence, is not British. They’re one of Little Rock’s finest bands. A well-studied exercise in post-punk songmanship, their self-titled debut album is a catchy, albeit brief take on a tantalizing sound originally hatched during good ol’ Thatcher-era England.
Much of the MF’s Britishness lies with singer Jeremy Brasher. Brasher sounds so much like the Clash’s Joe Strummer that it is hard to believe that he didn’t fall through a wormhole in 1977 London to land in the lap of 2007 Little Rock. And it’s not just the way he sings. Sure he’s got the same bite, the same pissed-off snarl as Strummer, but more importantly, he’s got the same keen eye for social injustice and modern woe. Plus Brasher sings slogans: big, chant-along phrases that wouldn’t sound out of place in a political rally. Or a rebellion.
As essential to this diagnosis as he is, Brasher is still only one part of the equation. The instrumentation in the MF’s debut is as strong as the vocals. Choppy guitars, melodic bass, and tight drumming create a hypnotic stomp reminiscent at times of Gang of Four or Wire. But there’s also something distinctly self-reliant in this band. I doubt Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill could play a chord as pretty, studied and jazz-like as the interesting guitar figure that opens this CD. Throughout this release, there are intricate, weaving lines among all the instruments unlike anything one might try to find in the artists I have presumed to be this band’s influences.
Among the many great tracks in this offering, it’s the hooky “Like Zombies” that offers the best example of the MF sound. Tightly played, call-and-response guitar parts are answered by a lone keyboard figure. The song’s stick-in-your-head chorus places working class stiffs as zombies with the clever lyrical turn, “We’re just like zombies really/Being half dead is hard work/And being at work is being half dead.” On this eight-song release, this final track stands out like a billboard among wildly waved placards. Come chant along. - Charles Wyrick / Arkansas Times