Album Review: moe. – No Guts, No Glory – Sugar Hill Records – May 27th, 2014

moe. – No Guts, No Glory Sugar Hill Records
May 27th, 2014

No Guts, No Glory, is truly what it takes to make a record of this magnitude, a timeless piece of music and lyrics, entwined and buffed to a reflective spit shine, an album that reinvigorates all who dare listen.
No Guts, No Glory was originally meant to be an acoustic project. After many road blocks and bumps along the way, they had to scrap that idea and take a step back. In order to gain a new perspective on the project, the band brought in producer Dave Aron (Snoop Dogg, Tupac, U2, Prince), who is a long-time friend of moe., to get the album off and running. This turned out to be the turning point in the creation process. Recorded in Connecticut and released on Sugar Hill Records, No Guts, No Glory turned out to be an accurate representation of a live moe. experience.
Driving bass lines, progressive structures, experimental improvisation and crafty songwriting make the album equally familiar and intriguing. “Annihilation Blues” sounds exactly as you’d expect from the name. Led by a strong and steady bass line, this bluesy track is a bit uncharacteristic of moe., but they pull it off as if they have been a blues-rock band the whole time. “White Lightning Turpentine” features a quick, finger-pickin’ acoustic guitar line against slow, legato slide electric and a relaxed drum beat. Here we begin to see the original acoustic influence on the album. The tune changes gears about half way through to some more driving, heavy rock chords, topped off with a raunchy slide electric guitar solo. “This I Know” features emotional chord changes and a heavy bridge that leads to short but rockin’ guitar solo. A wavy lead guitar line adds an airy timbre, and the switch to a faster beat leaves the potential for some great jams and buildups in live settings. Along with an upbeat feel and quick, speedy lyrics, “Same Old Story” has a groovy drum beat and lead guitar line. Bass and keyboard stabs add some flavor to the verses, peeking in between the guitar lines. A couple of quick vibraphone solos round out the tune. I am very happy to see “Silver Sun” getting the studio treatment. Although the studio version feels a bit faster than the live versions, it still has that relaxed but moving feel to the intro. Brilliant guitar work, over about a three minute intro, is followed by a simple but catchy and relatable lead guitar riff that will make your head swim. Then the second guitar harmonizes with the first and fills up all your senses. A heavy build-up leads into the song’s airy and wavy vocals, followed by a long build-up supporting some more nifty guitar work, and finally bringing the song to its climax over 7 minutes in. This progressive track clocks in at nine minutes and forty seconds.
“Calyphornya” has a darker aura than the rest of the album. After an acoustic intro, the electric guitar comes in with a simple solo, concentrating primarily on phrasing. “Little Miss Cup Half Empty” is an ironically light-hearted track with a heavy, driving ending. “Blond Hair And Blue Eyes,” which was released as the first single from the album, has a nice waltzy feel and features some help from a horn section. “Do Or Die” starts off with a country-blues guitar intro. A quick drums and percussion bridge splits the song in two and leads into a very short guitar solo. “The Pines And The Apple Tree” is an all acoustic tune, with a beautiful mandolin solo. The drums kick in for the final third of the song, giving the tune a renewed energy. “Billy Goat” is another long, progressive track, clocking nine minutes and thirty five seconds. A funky bass intro and quick, syncopated drum beat set the tone for a fast-paced track with many different sections. The guitar work on this track is unbelievable, filling in the gaps between the bass and drum lines perfectly. The feel of “Billy Goat” just screams old school moe. Al and Chuck trade off solos in the middle section, which is augmented by a brief lull in the action. The song (and thus, the album) ends with a long, passionate build-up, a quick silence, followed by the hard-hitting funky bass lick from the intro.
Overall, No Guts, No Glory is another breath of fresh air from the jam band giants. It is so great to see them pushing some new compositions a bit out of their comfort zones all-the-while bringing enough familiarity to the table to keep that original moe. style we all know and love. The album will be released on May 27, 2014, and moe. will continue to blow our minds on the road throughout the remainder of the year.