Known in the 1990s as a blues-rockin' guitar wunderkind, Ian Moore eventually took a left turn down singer-songwriter lane—and he never looked back. His work has been more interesting for it, even though it hasn't provided the same fame he received early in his career.
From Austin by way of Seattle, Moore has maintained an ongoing relationship with Tucson and, in particular, Club Congress, where he and his new band, the Lossy Coils, played last weekend.
Tucson's Louise Le Hir opened the show, singing and playing electric guitar while accompanied by drummer Benjamin Blake. Their brief set leaned on engagingly melancholy, lo-fi garage-pop, inflected with the subtlest of twangs. It made me want to hear more.
Ian Moore and the Lossy Coils performed about 90 minutes of catchy and fiery power-pop, echoing the refreshing new direction on their latest album, El Sonido Nuevo. It was as if the 1970s and early '80s never left the building, with catchy tunes, punchy riffs and impassioned performances.
When Moore and company—which included bassist Matt Harris, who sang harmonies and co-wrote some of the new material—tackled pop-rock jangle, it was infused with touches of blues, soul, folk and country, not unlike The Byrds, Rockpile and the immortal Big Star, even before the band covered Chris Bell's "I Am the Cosmos." Among other highlights were the new disc's "Birds of Prey," and "New Day," from his 2004 album Luminaria.
Not your everyday pop-rock songwriter, Moore seems more concerned with history and current events than with "love me do" sentiments. Among the subjects of songs were Sir Edmund Hillary and Mount Everest; the boxer Jack Johnson; sexpot icon Angelyne; and accused murderer Amanda Knox.
At times, the band also grooved hard, like a cross between the Jimi Hendrix Experience, ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin, especially on older tracks such as "Muddy Jesus," an obvious favorite of the sparse but enthusiastic audience. Moore retained a bit of the showman from his guitar-slinger days, launching himself into explosive guitar solos and singing with an un-self-conscious bravado, but his chops and voice supported it. Still, he and the band rarely ventured beyond concise three-minute jabs of song, leaving little room for indulgent jamming.