El Sonido Nuevo, the seventh studio record from Austin-raised, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Ian Moore, bridges the gap between the stylistic offshoots of his past few records and the guitar-slinging bravado that characterized his earlier, often bluesier, output. “The album is a retrenching in the face of a diffuse pop culture landscape,” says Moore, now fronting power-pop trio the Lossy Coils for El Sonido Nuevo. “Every band has ten members, every movie is a sequel, there are 500 channels and nothing’s on.”
El Sonido Nuevo, due out March 8, 2011 on Seattle-based label Spark & Shine, distributed by Burnside Distribution, will be available in all formats including vinyl. Digital distribution on iTunes and the rest of the digital world will be through IODA. The iTunes release will have two bonus tracks not on the CD. The trio will perform songs from the new collection at a handful of Texas and Oklahoma concert dates beginning on March 3, leading up to shows at South by Southwest (March 15–20, 2011) in Austin, Texas.
A certain sentiment rings out loud and clear, from the opening track, “Secondhand Store,” right on through the album: “We wrote it after South by Southwest when we were dealing with that onslaught of hipsters taking over the East Side of Austin — everybody has an angle and nobody seems to be actually doing anything,” says Moore, whose songwriting lets loose lyrics peppered with relevant and provocative topics. “It’s a mish-mash of jaded feelings in a dark moment.”
The Lossy Coils, formed in Seattle in the mid-2000s, features Moore, bassist Matt Harris (Oranger, Posies), and drummer Kyle Schneider (Johnny Goudie). The album was co-written with Harris, who has also played with Roky Erikson and Pavement’s Spiral Stairs. With Moore’s inspiring guitar work leading the way, El Sonido Nuevo alternates between rockers and ballads, pure songs and pure sounds, with a lush pop introduction that follows the same Beatles-by-the-way-of-Big Star thread that has informed the best work of contemporaries like Wilco.
Moore, a prodigy of self-invention, has built a career following his artistic instincts, which hasn’t always worked from a business perspective. Still, he’s been steadily accruing fans by staying on the road doing everything from solo acoustic shows to full band gigs in the U.S. and abroad. Moore’s skilled musicianship has been requested by many of his stylistic forefathers. Milestones include playing “Like a Rolling Stone” on the road with Bob Dylan, drinking goblets of wine and trading guitar riffs with Keith Richards on tour with the Rolling Stones, exchanging mix tapes with Paul Weller, performing “Whisky River” with Willie Nelson, singing a duet with Emmylou Harris, and backing artists as divergent as Roky Erikson and Jason Mraz.
Moore’s pared-back band on the record was a purposeful step into stripping away artifice and décor. The songs on El Sonido Nuevo are simple and direct. Previously Moore might have been inclined to layer sonics and complex arrangements; here the record is straightforward, the songs clean and without ornamentation. Moore returns to the boundaries of what he can do with six strings and his largely unsung, soulful voice.
Born in Berkeley, Calif., Moore grew up in Austin, Texas, and made his mark there in the early ’90s as a blues-guitar virtuoso. Early sideman duty for Texas roots legend Joe Ely led to a 1993 self-titled solo record on Capricorn that propelled Moore to those critical opening gigs for the Stones and Dylan, as well as a notable appearance in Billy Bob Thornton’s indie hit film Slingblade. Moore’s broad palette of influences and interests was further explored in the video for “Harlem,” directed by rapper and actor Ice Cube.
Critics have long loved Moore’s studio output: Dave Hickey in Art in America magazine called his Modernday Folklore “one of the best moments in contemporary art in 1996,” while Harp magazine observed, “Since the early ’90s the native Texan has refused corporate molding in favor of freedom and the artistic rewards are staggering.” Moore’s 2004 release Luminaria received numerous accolades, including from Billboard’s Chris Morris, who noted, “The burden of the contemporary singer/ songwriter is in formulating a sound that is completely unique. With Luminaria, Ian Moore accomplishes just that.” And of his most recent release, 2007’s To Be Loved, All Music Guide wrote, “Moore has created a brand of challenging yet highly melodic new-millennium pop-rock that establishes him as an audacious songwriter and player. He has struck that rare balance between astute complexity and utter pop appeal.”
Moore has been placed into the circle of guitarist-songwriters likes Mayfield, Hendrix, and Buckley, “where pop isn't a dirty word and where music comes straight from the soul.” He has made hundreds of television appearances, from regional TV shows to the Today show and the Late Show With David Letterman to a one-hour Direct TV special, while avid watchers of American Idol have seen contestants cover Moore’s songs “Blue Sky” and “Satisfied.” And the Austin Music Awards have repeatedly voted him Best Singer, Musician and Band.
The manner in which Moore has moved across styles and cultural boundaries has rallied critics but, sometimes, confused his longtime fans. On El Sonido Nuevo, the blues and rock guitar he’s best known for is back, bolstered by confident songwriting and the absorbed echoes of those influences and stylistic adventures.
With El Sonido Nuevo, Moore’s musical journey bands together all these disparate influences with a confidence, subtlety, depth and, some would argue, a return to form on the guitar.
Thurs., March 3 CORPUS CHRISTIE, TX House of Rock
Sat., March 5 AUSTIN, TX Continental Club
Sun., March 6 AUSTIN, TX Waterloo Records in-store
Sat., March 12 HOUSTON, TX Continental Club