Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13: Moist, "Push"

Artist: Moist
Song: "Push"
Album: Silver
Year: 1994

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Though the saying goes that "imitation is the finest form of flattery," within the world of music, such actions are often counter-productive and lead to bland, stale years in music history.  During the early 1990's, the strain of punk that was dubbed "grunge" ruled the charts and every rock band in the world was trying to cash in on the sound.  While a majority of these groups were little more than second-rate rip off artists, there were a handful of bands that were able to capture the spirit of the music and fuse it together with their own sound.  Whether it was in the vocal approach or within the power and tone of the music, the bands that showed "real" talent were able to seamlessly integrate this sound into their music, and these fusions resulted in some of the finest music of the decade.  One of the many bands that were able to accomplish this feat were an emerging rock band from British Columbia, and they found moderate success with a string of hits in 1994.  Backed by booming guitars and centered around one of the most underrated vocalists of the decade, Moist captured the raw, almost wild spirit of rock and roll, and combined it with the edge and anger of grunge in brilliant fashion.  Coming in at the tail end of the "grunge era," Moist stands as one of the many bands that helped in transitioning the face of popular music to a more melodic, yet darker place that would persevere for a number of years.  The bands' ability to create amazing moods was their strongest characteristic, and it is no more apparent than on their 1994 single, "Push."

The moment "Push" begins, it is clear that the band has a flare for the dramatic, as the opening guitar chord is almost amazingly loud, yet packs an amazing punch and sets a dark, yet aggressive tone for the entire song.  It is this and the rest of the guitar work from Mark Makoway that sets Moist far apart from the core of the "grunge" bands, as there is not the murky, almost lackadaisical tone present.  In its place is a far more angry, fast paced, and moody sound, and the rest of the band falls into line with his musical lead.  Another factor that sets Moist apart from their peers and a majority of what was happening musically at the time is the keyboard of Kevin Young.  This added layer gives their music a unique sound, and it also plays a central part in solidifying the gloomy, almost gothic tone that underscores all of "Push."  The rhythm section of bassist Jeff Pearce and drummer Paul Wilcox round out the instrumental portion of the band, and they prove to have a knack for bringing powerful emotion in their music without coming off as going overboard or cliché.  As a single unit, Moist moves perfectly on every step of the song, from the crashing choruses to the more mellow and melodic moments, they prove that they have a firm grasp on their sound and skills.  Truth be told, few bands of the time were able to create music that was simultaneously as heavy and dark as Moist, and this sound and emotion within the song are what propelled "Push" into regular radio rotation and a modest run of the singles chart.

Though the four musicians in Moist do their part to create a fantastic orchestration, without the stellar vocal work of David Usher, "Push" would simply fall flat.  In terms of both power and range, Usher seems to have no limitations, as he shows off his mesmerizing whisper as well as his soaring singing voice.  During the verses, when he brings a breathy, spoken style, the listener is immediately captivated, and a certain swagger and almost sinister style run through his entire performance.  Further adding to his uniqueness as a singer, regardless of how loud he is singing, there is a distinct pitch and flow to his voice that makes the vocals all the more interesting to experience.  The anger within his voice is powered not only by his emotions, but the angst-ridden and outright frustrated lyrics which he is singing.  Few songs of the 1990's capture the frustration of lost and unrequited love as one finds on "Push," and it is clear that the band were quite adept when it came to lyrics that had a "bite" to them.  From the first lines of, "...a little bit more than I ever wanted, a little bit more than you could ever say...," it is clear that the song is quite personal in nature, and from the passion within his voice, one can only assume that it is taken from Usher's own experiences.  Each verse gets deeper and deeper into the unbalanced relationship in question, and he hits the nail on the head when he sings, "...push just a little to late..."  The final refrain of, "...I expected more than this..." takes the listener on a wild ride as the song ends, as Usher leaves no guards up and his emotions almost overflow as he repeats the song until the track closes.

The history of music has shown that it doesn't take much to find success as a copycat band who does little more than follow the trends of the time.  Though in cases like these, the bands that do so rarely find longstanding success, and one must look to those bands that made the "trends" their own for the best music of any given era.  Primarily taking from the fading "grunge" sound, Canadian rockers Moist clearly also took a large part of their sound from the industrial and gothic metal bands of the late 1980's.  The manner with which the band mixes these influences together on "Push" is a true musical treat, as the heavy musical arrangements blend in brilliant fashion with the dark, angst-filled vocals and lyrics.  Truth be told, this trend runs for the entire length of their 1994 record, Silver, and the album remains one of the most overlooked moments of sonic accomplishment of the entire decade.  Each of the four musicians in the band play with superb feeling and tone on "Push," and the song still holds up nearly twenty years later.  However, there is little question that the true magic behind the song lies within the extraordinary vocal performance of David Usher, and his singing here represents not only the finest of his career, but one of the strongest vocal tracks of the entire decade.  Harnessing all of the enrgy and emotion of a jaded lover, there are few songs of the 1990's that have the same amount of anger, aggression, and shadowy mood as one finds in Moist's magnificent 1994 single, "Push."

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