8 Songs | MR030 | Release Date 2007
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 via Arkansas Times