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Not so much underrated as unheard, Moose grew up in Britain's distortion-heavy shoegazing movement of the early '90s but soon shed the fuzzy wash of their compatriots to embrace a clean, acoustic-based style -- inspired by '60s icons Burt Bacharach and Tim Buckley as well as jangle merchants like the Byrds and R.E.M. -- that still relied on the intense guitar effects which characterized the band's early works. Moose was formed in early 1990 by the songwriting team of Kevin (K.J.) McKillop and Russell Yates (Yates had appeared in an early incarnation of Stereolab), plus drummer Damien Warburton and bassist Jeremy Tishler. The group signed to Hut Records (also the British home of Smashing Pumpkins and the Verve) in 1990, and began recording with producer Guy Fixsen (later of Laika). After the release of three EPs during 1991, both Warburton and Tishler left the band; Moose then added drummer Richard Thomas and the brothers Fong, Lincoln on bass and Russell on guitar and sometime production. Hut Records had just formed an alliance with the major label Virgin, which condensed Moose's past material onto a seven-track EP, Sonny and Sam. (It served as an American primer for the band, but proved to be their only major-label stateside release.) Hut financed a full-length album, ...XYZ, in 1992 and recruited Mitch Easter for production and Dolores O'Riordon of the Cranberries for harmony vocals on one track. The album sold poorly, however, and Hut dropped the band by early 1993. Not fazed in the least, Moose came back with the Liquid Make Up EP for their own Cool Badge label. Its leadoff track, "I Wanted to See You to See if I Wanted You," was a charming piece of pop, their best single yet. Signed to Belgium's Play It Again Sam Records, the band released their second album, Honey Bee, in early 1994. It wisely included a different version of "I Wanted to See You to See if I Wanted You," but Moose appeared to be verging on overkill with yet another carbon-copy version included on the Bang Bang EP several months later. Perhaps signalling a stall in creativity, third album Live a Little, Love a Lot was released with no attaching single, though the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser did lend her vocals to one track. Four years later, Moose reappeared with an album (High Ball Me!) released on the English Nickel and Dimes as well as on the American Le Grand Magistery.
© John Bush /TiVo


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