The Molochs with support from WhyNo?
If we had to pick one album that’s been playing non-stop at Freakender HQ this year, it would be The Molochs’ ‘America’s Velvet Glory’ so we’re delighted to be bringing them back to Glasgow in February. A long way off, but we’re hyped and its time for you to get up to speed – if you haven’t already fallen for them.
First, let’s meet Moloch. You remember him, right? The ancient god, the child eater, the demander of sacrifice, the villain in Ginsberg’s Howl (and also real life) and now the personal antagonist of singer and songwriter Lucas Fitzsimons, who named his band the Molochs because he knew he’d have to make sacrifices to get what he needed, and because he always wanted a reminder of the Ginsbergian monster he’d be fighting against. And so this is how you make a record right now: you fight for every piece, and when Moloch takes apart your relationships and career potential and leaves you sleeping on couches or living in terrifying apartments and just about depleted from awful people involving you in their awful decisions, you grab a bottle of wine (and laugh at the cliché) and put together another song. And once you do that eleven hard-won times in total, you get a record like America’s Velvet Glory: honest, urgent, desperate and fearless because of it.
Fitzsimons, originally from Buenos Aires was raised in LA’s South Bay, and immersed in hip hop until the age of 12 when he fell in love with the guitar. After various bands fell by the way side, and after a trip to India in 2012 it was time to focus. This was the true start of the Molochs: “It didn’t make any sense to not do everything exactly the way I wanted to do it,” he says. “I was so shy and introverted that singing publicly sounded like a nightmare come true. But I didn’t have a choice—I heard something inside of me and I needed to be the one to express it.”
Their debut album, Forgotter Blues, was released with Fitzsimons’ guitarist/organist and longtime bandmate Ryan Foster in early 2013 on his own label. Twelve songs of anxious garage-y proto-punk-y folk-y rock, Modern Lovers demos and Velvet Underground arcana as fuel and foundation both. It deserved to go farther than it did, which sadly wasn’t very far. But it sharpened Fitzsimons and his songwriting, and after three pent-up years of creativity, he was ready to burst. So he decided to record a new album in the spirit of the first, and in the spirit of everything that the Molochs made so far: “I wanted to spend less time figuring out HOW we were gonna do something and just actually do it.”
The result is America’s Velvet Glory, recorded with engineer Jonny Bell at effortless (says Fitzsimons) sessions at Long Beach’s JazzCats studio. It starts with an anxious electric minor-key melody and ends on a last lonesome unresolved organ riff, and in between comes beauty, doubt, loss, hate and even a moments or two of peace. There are flashes of 60s garage rock—like the Sunset Strip ’66 stormer “No More Cryin’” or the “Little Black Egg”-style heartwarmer-slash-breaker “The One I Love”—but like one of Foster’s and Fitzsimons’ favorites the Jacobites, the Molochs are taking the past apart, not trying to recreate it.
You can hear where songs bend, where voices break, where guitars start to shiver and when strings are about to snap; on “You And Me,” you can almost hear Lou Reed’s ghost call for a solo, and on “I Don’t Love You,” you get that subway-sound guitar and find out what happens when Jonathan Richman’s G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N goes wrong. And of course there’s the charismatic chaos of bootleg basement-tape Dylan—always Dylan, says Fitzsimons—and the locked-room psychedelia of Syd Barrett, especially on “Charlie’s Lips,” Fitzsimons’ ode to—or antidote to—those times when he felt the bleakness completely: “Then a bird lands on a branch nearby, you hear leaves fluttering, you hear a child laughing … all of a sudden things don’t seem so bad anymore.”
So Moloch might still be out there, devouring his sacrifices, but the Molochs are still fighting, too. And that’s why Fitzsimons picked the band name—it’s so he remembers what he’s up against. He’s not celebrating the destroyer of youth and individuality and creativity, he says: “I’m just keeping him in sight so that he doesn’t win.” – Christopher Ziegler
«One of the year’s best. Which year? Any year» — MOJO
«Anxious indie-rockers playing up like a reborn Modern Lovers» — Uncut
«Steeped in jangly Eighties rock, with flecks of psychedelic folk and surfer nonchalance» — DiS
«The perfect soundtrack to pulling on your Chelsea boots and black crew-neck sweater» — The Guardian
«The album feels like you’re travelling through the US in a beat-up old car, and casually tuning in and out of a dozen different radio stations… a barnstorming record.» — NME
“The Molochs’ latest track is hazy folk with a revolutionary message …The ghosts of Lou Reed and Syd Barrett don’t so much as linger but crawl all over the sound.” – Loud & Quiet