Moss Icon

January 13, 2010

If you read this regularly (which no one does) then you’ll know that a while back I did a short profile on Black Flag.  I said in that post that I’d be doing occasional profiles on influential bands, which so far I haven’t got around to doing.  But if you’ve been wondering ‘when is Nathan going to do another profile on an influential alternative band?’ (you haven’t) then you can stop wondering now.  Because what you didn’t realise when you started reading this is that this very post is a profile of influential alternative band Moss Icon!  Isn’t that exciting?

Moss Icon were a fairly short lived band, they were only active between 1986 and 1991 (being awesome and then burning up in a short space of time seems to be something of a trend for influential alternative bands).  They were one of the first bands playing music which came to be known as ’emo’.  No, not that kind of emo, this stuff is good, as you’ll find out in the lecture I’ll give you if you ever mention emo to me.  In fact, we’ll take a break here for…


Emo (originally known as emocore, short for emotional hardcore if you couldn’t guess) came about in the summer of ’84 known to hardcore punk nerds like me as ‘Revolution Summer’, when hardcore punk bands got bored of playing hardcore punk.  Hardcore shows were becoming increasingly violent and were starting to attract more and more attention from undesirable groups such as neo nazi skinhead types, so some of the bands began playing more mellow, artistic, introspective music to try and attract a better class of people to their shows.  Some other things happened and emo was born.  Almost all of the softer side of modern alternative music, especially American indie, traces it’s roots back to Revolution Summer and emo.  Now back to Moss Icon…

Anyway, Moss Icon recorded a few EPs, one split LP with a band called Silver Bearing and one LP of their own, all of which were released after they had broken up.  Most of the EPs contained similar track lineups, overall they recorded about 20 distinct songs.  Four of the members regrouped recently, with the possibility of new songs being recorded in the future, which is exciting.

It’s hard to describe the sound of Moss Icon without just saying ‘go and listen to it’.  They were something of an anomaly, ahead of their time, but they’d still sound equally anomalistic if they were only just now releasing their music; I can’t think of any other band that sounds like them.  It is a testament to their music that nothing like it was made before and nothing like it has been made since.  The best description I can give of their sound is that of someone singing/reading Ted Hughes’ poetrywhile the rest of the band play folk/blues/jazz influenced indie rock.  The lyrics have a rhythmic, poetic feel to them and the instrumental work somehow imitates the scenes that they describe.

They are quite possibly my favourite band of all time and I’d really recomend that you at least have a listen to one of their songs.  Here’s a good place to start:

They’re a lot less well known than bands like Black Flag who the last profile was about, but they’re a shining example of the emo genre which has gone on to be so influential as a whole, and that’s why I think they’re an important band in the history of alternative music.

I’ll do another one of these sooner, it was fun to write.

Thanks for reading, feedback on the ‘article’ (it seems presumptuous to call it that really), or just on whether you liked the band, appreciated =]