Sound Advice: Everything In by Moderation
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Sound Advice: Everything In by Moderation

A Toronto-based band sets out to prove that they're not just another blues-rock act.

If you weren’t listening particularly carefully, you might be tempted to write off Moderation as another run-of-the-mill lo-fi blues-influenced alt-rock band, eager to cash in on the success of The Black Keys. And it’s true, there are some strong Keysian influences on Moderation’s latest EP, Everything In. There are plenty of desperate whisky-soaked wails, and the Mississippi Delta-influenced guitar riffs sound like they were recorded on an eight-track at the bottom of a well. Listen a little more closely, however, and you’ll realize that the Toronto-based group belongs to a species all its own.

Moderation balances its fuzzy riffs with a male-female vocal pairing on “All the Battle” and “Easy on Meself.” Even left to his own devices, frontman Joe MacMillan has as least as much in common with a couple other famous frontmen as he does with Dan Auerbach. In one track, “Natural Woman,” MacMillan rasps like Tom Waits; in another, “The Girl Who Hides,” he pulls out David Byrne’s odd inflections. Indeed, The Talking Heads vibes run deep in “The Girl Who Hides,” which quickly sheds its bluesy shell for plinky guitars and an uptempo chorus. “Adorable Junkie” makes a similar transformation, but with the blues giving way to an FM radio singalong. (You can listen to “Adorable Junkie” by clicking on the sample above.)

With such a diverse range of influences, Everything In could easily turn into an incoherent, thinly stretched mess. Thankfully, MacMillan and company are firmly grounded in their bluesy roots. They’re not trying to be anything other than a lo-fi blues-rock band. But they don’t want to sound like every other lo-fi blues-rock band.