The Incredible Moses Leroy
Electric Pocket Radio
Don’t think he’s conceited, and don’t think he’s Moses Leroy, either. Ron Foutenberry takes his stage name from his love of comic books (like The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, and most obviously, The Incredible Hulk) and his grandfather, the real Moses Leroy, a turn-of-the-(20th) century union leader and civil right activist. However, •incredible• is a good way to describe his first full-length for Ultimatum, Electric Pocket Radio. Another word would be •eclectic,• and still another would be •fun.• Living up to his reputation as a •pop music archivist,• Electric Pocket Radio finds Foutenberry exploring a broad range of music, yet maintaining a core feel and style all his own.
The album makes use of three different producers, and collectively, they•ve worked with the likes of Beck, Flaming Lips, Folk Implosion, and Elliot Smith. While Radio is likely to appeal to fans of all of these artists, it never does so via lavish imitation. Instead, the songs, while broadly based, tend to fall into two larger categories. The first is •80s-inspired pop, rock, and new wave, best exemplified by the appropriately-titled •1983,• for example, which sounds very much like something New Order would have done that same year. Also falling into the •80s-inspired category are the Moog-riffic •Anthem• and •Best Friend• (Weezer by way of The Cars pop-rock), •Our Onemillionth Customer!• (an odd marriage of Beach Boys harmonies, breakbeat, and Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode), and the cool Casio-core of •Christmas in the Summer.•
The second category is the pretty, quieter ballads that grace the album, such as the chamber-esque •It•s Better,• and especially the light, frothy •It•s A Sunday,• with its quintessentially Sunday afternoon feel. •Fuzzy• falls into this category, with a •60s easy listening vibe contrasting nicely with brilliant lyrical twists like •Let•s paint the town red, like Carrie.• The smooth, jazzy •Tomato Soup• also ranks with these, as does the •20s vibe of •Don•t Say o Me It•s Over.•
It•s easy, though, for a reviewer to genericize and throw things into •categories• when dealing with such a challenging record. Trust me when I tell you, I•m oversimplifying things here, and what Foutenberry•s doing here is truly more eclectic and more than the sum of the parts a review can detail. An important and exciting release, and one that comes highly recommended.
Ultimatum Music, 8723 W. Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232; http://www.ultimatummusic.com