Posted on January 12th, 2009 (11:45 am) by Sean Morrissey

In the bustle! bustle! of the digital music era we’ve transitioned into, the artistic power of the EP has become lost and largely forgotten. Often given little press attention, these little musical snippets are laid aside as the full length is quick pressed for hurried enjoyment. The sad fact is that EP’s carry some of the brightest gems of a given band’s catalog. Take Death Cab for Cutie’s Forbidden Love EP and their acoustic version of “405,” or any of Black Flag’s early EP releases with Keith Morris. Don’t forget the EP otherwise you may miss out on a remarkable album, as is the case with Moving Mountains’ sophomore release, the Foreword EP.

Some critics have suggested that Moving Mountains play too close to the hip of former Deep Elm Record mainstays the Appleseed Cast, and truthfully there are points on Foreword when the sounds of that influence become difficult to shake. But as a standalone record, the amount of composition and emotion that rings forth from these tracks is enough to (at the least) keep the listener enthralled. The album’s twinkling opener “Forward” blends the slow building beauty of post rock classics with the emotional vocal delivery of singers Gregory Dunn and Frank Graniero. The most noteworthy characteristic of the EP is that each song is written more as an epic, following through movements rather than the standard verse-chorus structure. The song rises and falls with conviction, and in the case of “Forward,” never stops doing just as its title suggests.

“With One’s Heart in One’s Mouth” helps pick up the pace and volume of “Forward.” Most shocking perhaps about “…One’s Mouth” are its haunting/beautiful lyrics, with lines like “You’ve got nothing more to fear than me and lover’s plight.” This call out to a scorned loves’ abusive revenge is wonderfully poetic, and a welcoming return to the guitar wielding wordsmith, a la Leonard Cohen. The track peaks with emo-tional screams and an explosion of sound from all sides. The ‘scream breakdown’ has never done anything to move me before, and it still doesn’t here, but given the climaxed intensity of the song, it works as well as any, and for once I almost believed it.

The progression of Foreword is brought to a screeching halt on “Armslength.” There is nothing innately wrong with this song, aside from the fact that its initial vocal melody and chord progression are unmistakeably similar to Sufjan Steven’s “John Wayne Gacy, Jr,” so much so in fact that whilst listening to it I was interrupted by my roommate, wondering where I had found an alternative version of the aforementioned Sufjan track. The song recovers once the band re-adjusts to their more raucous form of thundering drums and distorted tremolo picking, but the blood has already been poured out on the tracks.

“Lights and Shapes” ends the album on the loudest note possible, ensuring one fist-pump anthem to close out a relatively somber record. The track highlights Nicholas Pizzolato’s powerful drumming alongside Gregory Dunn and Frank Graniero’s trade-off vocals. At all points of “Lights and Shapes” the band sounds wholly unified; the track explodes in fantastic fashion, incorporating strings that add a touch of intimacy to its sound. As one could hope for any album, Moving Mountains have gone out as strongly as they came in.

If nothing else, the Foreword EP proves that the days of the cherished EP are not dead. Don’t call them B-Sides, or loose ends, because these songs are now among my favorites of anything they have produced. It will be interesting to see if and when Moving Mountains will be able to shake those Appleseed influences and truly branch out to form their own musical lineage, but for right now the Foreword EP is definitely a step in the right direction.

Track List:

1. Forward (9:37)
2. With One’s Heart in One’s Mouth (9:49)
3. Armslength (7:12)
4. Lights and Shapes (9:38)

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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