ALBUM REVIEW: R. Stevie Moore – Lo-Fi High Fives: A Kind Of Best Of

 

Written for the 405

Some people are sickeningly productive. Whilst the rest of us sit around, picking our noses, scrolling through Twitter and attempting to engineer a 140-character witticism of our own to share, these bastards are achieving things we daren’t even dream of, even when we’re really drunk. R. Stevie Moore is one of these lucky show-offs.

Over the course of forty-six years – he made his first recording in 1966, on a reel-to-reel tape machine – Moore has recorded and (self-)released in excess of 400 tapes and CD-R albums (that’s around fifteen albums a year). His Wikipedia entry lists the octogenarian lo-fi legend’s notable instruments as “All”. He has worked with everyone from Aerial Pink to Jad Fair to MGMT to the Vaccines.

It’s hard to hate someone when they make such good music, though.

Lo-Fi High Fives, the latest career-spanning Moore retrospective, touches on the majority of the myriad genres the Nashvillian has turned his skilled hand to – you’d figure over the course of four decades you’d give a few a try – including, but not limited to: Power-pop on opening number ‘Pop Music’; the experimental tape-loops of ‘Show Biz is Dead’; the reverb-drenched folk of ‘Big Mistake’; some Beach Boys aping on ‘Here Comes Summer Again’; and the scrappy garage rock, which he is probably best known for, on ‘Why Should I Love You’. It’s important to note he is both a Jack of all trades and a master of them all, too. These disparate threads are stuck together by Moore’s distinctive voice, which is Neil Young-like in its pitch but more akin to Paul Westerberg in the way it’s treated.

The tracks do vary on what Moore himself dubs the “listenability quotient”. There’s lo-fi, and then there’s lo-fi, as exemplified by ‘The Winner’ with its overly-distorted guitars and audible tape warping (which is a shame, because it’s one of the best/catchiest/funniest cuts on show here).

”People tell me I’m shooting myself in the foot, releasing so much — I’ve heard that for years,” Moore has said in interview. ”But I can’t help it. It’s who I am.” This need – the indefatigable creative drive – is what makes this an album of engagingly diverse, but still fun, well-written and at times gorgeously arranged and performed (I’m thinking of ‘I Got Into Your Mind’, a mash-up of trilling strings, a Jazzy bassline and a breakbeat which is a Beatles-like as it is DJ Shadow-esque) and not a sad mess of failed experiments. It’s what makes R. Stevie Moore an enigmatic, mythic and just plain talented figure.

Of course, this is a compilation, so some of the wheat/chaff sorting has been sorted for us – but, honestly, what band has a best-of which still has not duff tracks on it? I can count them on one hand. And I am missing all of my fingers (it made typing all this very difficult). Moore is a rare thing, and his music is totally unlike anybody else’s – accept no substitutes. And give him all your money.

The talented git.

8/10

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