moe.

Wormwood (iMUSIC/ARTISTdirect)

Having established itself as one of the most talented of an ever-expanding crop of jam bands, twelve-year-old moe. is navigating middle age just fine. The band grooves with more of its signature neo-hippie fare on Wormwood, a healthy fourteen-track effort. Low-end man Rob Derhak propels the group through a guitar-laced sound that combines grit and sweetness and fuses pretty melodies with rhythm-driven edge. The quintet's now-patented Southern rock-tinged jams are present, as are ska beats, a nod to Led Zeppelin, and even some swirling ambient explorations.

The CD opens with "Not Coming Down," a high-energy track that kicks off with drummer Vinnie Amico knocking out the beat on the snare and high hat (enhanced with a little crowd noise), followed by Durhak vavooming into an undulating bass line that cues the rest of the players to surge forward into the verses and jams. The tune typifies the kind of classic moe. sound that helped define the band on past albums such as 1996's well-acclaimed No Doy (Sony) and 2001's Dither (Fatboy Records), as well as garner tour slots with the likes of the Other Ones.

Track 3, "Okayalright," a rocking ode to a past love, includes intriguing lyrics (though definitely not of the cutesy and overwrought Phish variety): "Back in the summer of '88/I didn't know how to rock and roll/Saw your face as you drove away/How could I know what you'd do to my soul?/Goodbye Susie goodbye."

Sometimes reminiscent of Cameron Crowe's fictional band Stillwater and sometimes conjuring real rockers, moe. cranks out neo-stoner rock that might make you stop and say "Ahhh." The band performs at the Fillmore Auditorium on Wednesday, February 8.

 
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