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Locals Only: : Moot

'A local quartet with a hard yet accomplished edge that's difficult to pigeonhole'

By Alex Hall · August 6th, 2003 · Locals Only

In any city's music scene, there's usually an overabundance of angst-driven Hard Rock acts with obnoxiously distorted guitars, simple root-note bass lines, the typical drumbeats for banging your head and screaming vocalists with little or nothing of any intellect to say. Occasionally you might find an act within this cornucopia that exceeds these boundaries. In Cincinnati's music scene, one such act remains outside of this stereotype: Moot. With their vocally intense, composition-based style, this quartet is sure to instill faith in the future of the genre while maintaining its musical roots.

In the beginning, there was drummer Kyle Kellum, guitarist Branden Spradlin and bassist Andrew Albrecht, who attended high school together and became a part of Milford High's award-winning marching band. They all agree that being led by instructors who strive for excellence taught them how to work together in a regimented environment.

This idea comes through well in their music. The trio isn't just playing power chords and the same old thrash rhythms.

Instead, melody-rich compositions and high-caliber musicianship stand out.

Spradlin's guitar intros are often fluid and the perfect lead-in to the song, as on "Prompted Chaos," the opening track on the band's first release, the EP The Chamber Sessions. Kellum's drum intro is also tasteful on the song, highlighting his capability and showing the skills he obtained from drum-and-bugle corps (he marched with The Crossmen, which reinforced his songwriting capacity). As for Albrecht, there's a great bass part on the song "So Cool," a Ska-driven groove with call-and-response lyrics and a chunky Metal chorus. During the guitar solo, there's buildup where Albrecht cuts loose and allows himself a little improv, which is uncommon in music of this genre but definitely welcome.

While the band is great and clearly in their element (even though the genre is usually full of people who can barely play their instruments), it's the vocals that really capture perceptive listeners. Kellum put an ad in a musician's exchange (without the rest of the band knowing) and the first response he got was from vocalist/lyricist JellyBean, who, in her first practice session with the band, helped write "Kenseeded," recorded a week later for The Chamber Sessions.

JB's lyrics and vocal intensity seemed the proverbial icing on the cake for the band. "Honestly, I'm a selfish writer," she says. "It's everything I've never had the nerve or chance to say. Just one gigantic mesh of twisted intervals of my life, and everyone in it."

With a deep, powerful, female vocalist fronting the band and intricate, well-arranged songs to accompany her lyrics, Moot could push the envelope of an otherwise under-appreciated style. The band's influences, however, span more than just Angst Rock.

"No one we have talked to has, to our knowledge, been able to nail down our style," JB says. "We explore different themes in every song that cover varied types of music. We look up to Tool, Rush, Parliament, Miles Davis, Jane Siberry and Boyz II Men -- yeah, I said it."

Some songs feature specific styles as the compositional building block, such as "So Cool" and "Kenseeded" (which uses funked-up guitar courtesy of a wah pedal), but all of the members add on in the writing process.

It seems we're always hearing about how females are continually discriminated against. When asked about her experience with this, given her musical endeavors in a male-dominated realm as well as with the band's booking, JB says it's a simple, genderless matter of self-respect.

"Only the media make an issue out of it," she says. "As for the respect -- if you're looking for respect in the eyes of others, you'll be sadly disappointed. If you look in my eyes and see how much respect I have for myself, then you'll understand why I'm such a satisfied woman."

MOOT plays Friday at Top Cat's. Check mootmusic.com for more on the band.


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