A. Graham and the Moment Band This Tyrant is Free

[Sonic Unyon; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: rock, indie rock, alt-country
Others: a honky-tonk Modest Mouse, Pavement, Silver Jews

The era of fun rock and roll seems so distant these days. Lyrics of cynicism, sarcasm, and wit have been replaced by poet wannabes spouting jargon, nonsense, and hysteria, hoping to become the next big musician. Classic guitar riffs have become lost in the shuffle of over-production and self-promotion. And if it weren't for bands such as the Polyphonic Spree, where would we be without the inclusion of choral singalongs and handclaps? Soulless and formulaic music is churned out at an alarming rate these days, whether it's mainstream or underground rock. There are a few shining rays of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and A. Graham and the Moment Band's first outing happens to be a perfect example of the simpler times without living in the past.

This Tyrant is Free is full of drunken laments, broken humor, and ingenious barbs that have been slowly herded out of music. The album is shallow and brutal, but the inner hatred comes with a smile -- one that won't leave your face no matter how many listens you plow through. The album's opener, "Glorious," is a joyous romp of piano pop and alt-country power, and though it only offers a slight glimpse of what's to come, its infectious nature is nothing to shy away from, even if you're notoriously mopey. "Total Nutcase," another in a long line of singalongs, will have you screaming it's chant of "I'm a nutcase, I'm a misfit, I'm a dimwit, I'm yours" at the top of your lungs, whether you're driving down the highway at top speeds or in the comfort of your own living room.

The crown jewel of the album lies within the short but sweet "Poundstone." It revels in its own brand of humor and absurdity, reminiscent of the better days of Ben Folds Five. The track is catchy, and clocking in at 2 minutes, it never gets stale. It's one of those songs that you can leave on repeat for days on end just to discover the candy goodness that waits inside the musical shell.

Although This Tyrant is Free isn't breaking any musical molds or blazing new trails, it's the kind of album that's been missing in music for quite some time. The kicker is that the band claims this is only a demo, and promise a proper album in 2005. If this is the quality of Andy Graham and company's demos, I can only begin to imagine what surfaces they have left to scratch.

1. Glorious
2. Not the One
3. No Capacity
4. Blurred Back
5. Total Nutcase
6. Poundstone
7. Motorcycle Shades
8. Cold Scene
9. Lazar y Caroline
10. Tyrant on the Sea
11. Liberty Hall
12. Feminine Side
13. Monkey Chickens
14. So Many Girls

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