Rock Plaza Central - At The Moment Of Our Most Needing
May 26th marked the release of Rock Plaza Central's long awaited follow up to 2006's Are We Not Horses?. The Toronto band has pulled out all the stops on At the Moment of Our Most Needing Or If Only They Could Turn Around They Would Know They Weren't Alone...they also enter Fiona Apple territory with that title.
Chris Eaton and company step out to make not only their most diverse album, but also their most rocking album to date. Long time fans need not fret however, the record is still chock full of literate songs and dramatic narratives.
A wide range of instruments weave in and out of the flow. On top of the Waitsian percussion used on many tracks we also get a seldom-heard drum machine on "(The World Is) Good Enough" as it smolders towards its explosive conclusion. The band seem to approach "The Wrong Side of the Right" as a challenge, seemingly trying to incorporate as many instruments as possible into the mix: banjo, steel guitar, accordion, horns, and piano in a triumphant melange.
Many different musical style and traditions shape the record. "(Don't You Believe the Words of) Handsome Men" uses world folk music rhythms to create an almost Gypsy lilt, while the aforementioned "The Wrong Side of the Right" includes a Spanish guitar flourish. That's all enhancing the Americana folk/roots/country/bluegrass that we expected from Rock Plaza Central.
The record is rife with vocal harmonies. "Them That Are Good and Them That Are Bad" is lovely because of that, but the most appealing is the mesmerizing opener "Oh I Can".
Lyrically the album is an exercise in contrasts. Eaton serves up both the dark, like the uncharacteristically deviant and salacious "Holy Rider", and the hopeful, like "Wherever You Are, I'm Home" which fits nicely next to Tom Waits' "Anywhere I Lay My Head".
Putting a nice little ribbon on the package is "The Hot Blind Earth", with its rootsy take on a classic Led Zeppelin riff and Kurt Cobain unplugged vocals.
I find that all too often roots-based indie bands get caught in a rut, with much of the music sounding alike. Rock Plaza Central blows that perception away, proving that if you have the talent and put in the effort you can breathe incredible vitality and freshness into the genre.
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