Moose – …XYZ (Cherry Red Records)

Although Moose are usually remembered as just another low-level group from the heyday of shoegaze, they had a little more depth than most other Kevin Shields-influenced guitar pedal worshippers. Their first album, 1992’s …XYZ, had the same kind of atmospheric guitar sounds also found on your Slowdive, Telescopes and MBV records but Moose were more apt to use them as accents for their songs, which were as influenced by jangle rock, country twang, and 1960’s British pop as by their Creation Records contemporaries. Including a cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking” – made famous by Harry Nilsson via the Midnight Cowboy Soundtrack- gives you a pretty good idea of where their heads were at. For every sweeping bit of guitar miasma there’s something a little more earthbound like a mandolin, flute, or a string quartet. While the band wrote good songs, a lot of the credit for the album’s success can be placed on producer Mitch Easter. Perhaps best known for his work with R.E.M., Easter gives the album a seemingly endless depth of texture and color that raises it to near-classic territory. Slap on a pair of good headphones and listen to “Polly” or “Soon Is Never Soon Enough” (which features backing vocals from Delores O’Riordan of The Cranberries) to hear how Easter makes good songs even better with strings, vocal overdubs, and other tasteful effects. In addition to the original thirteen-songs, this reissue adds seven songs from the EP’s that preceded …XYZ. These songs come closer to shoegaze territory, with jet-engine guitars and an overall higher volume, but are just as fully realized and affecting. An essential reissue.