The duo has the authenticity to appease genre purists, yet the lyrical depth to attract non-electronic fans
The duo is made up of Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance.
Bob Moses have the authenticity to appease genre purists, yet the lyrical depth to attract non-electronic fans.
They’ve quickly become a hot commodity in the dance community, bringing their live show to music festivals.
The story of Bob Moses begins in New York in early 2011 when Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance first reconnected after going to high school together years earlier in Vancouver BC. Both immersed in their own versions of New York nightlife, they bonded over a shared disillusionment with their respective scenes. Soon linking up with crew behind Brooklyn-based label, Scissor and Thread, Tom and Howie began doing vocal features for various friends of the label.
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Even more so now that they just released their debut LP, Days Gone By, through indie heavy-hitter Domino Records. Though they went to the same high school, Vallance and Howie didn’t really know each other. “The last time I saw Tom before I left for New York was in a McDonald’s drive-thru,” recalls Vallance, “and he was like, ‘Whoa! Jimmy, man! What are you doing here?’” They collided in New York City, where both had moved to chase the proverbial ideal of “making it.” “I just wanted to get out of Vancouver and do the Bob Dylan [thing], dream big, American city,” says Vallance. “Like, go make some music.”
Howie tried to go the more academic route, spending a year at Boston’s Berklee College of Music with a songwriting scholarship that, even with partial loans, was too expensive with his family (Vallance jokes that with his doctorate in trumpet, he’d be “broke as f—k”). So he, too, took his career ambitions slightly south; there, he met his musical partner throughMatthew DeKay, one of his good friends and Burning Man musical staple, who coincidentally had enlisted Vallance to produce a couple of his tracks.
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DeKay also brought them into Brooklyn’s underground electronic music scene, such as that Bushwick warehouse party that initially caught Robot Heart’s attention. “The warehouse thing was illegal, and if you were a bigger DJ, you wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole because you might lose your visa,” says Vallance. After finding a groove with each other, Bob Moses put out two EPs — 2012’s Hands to Hold and the next year’s Far From the Tree — of songs that found New Age-y hypnosis, somewhere between the deeply tribal techno of Damian Lazarus’ Crosstown Rebels crew and Iron & Wine’s whispery incantations. The closest, oft-acknowledged comparison is between them and Chris Isaak, who evokes similar feels with his proto-R&B beats and croons.
Such seamless back-and-forth is audible throughout Days Gone By, but especially in a song like mesmerizing album cut “Too Much Is Never Enough,” which gradually fades into consciousness with a drum brush-tap-skip that falls in lockstep with the piano breaks, before a spray of guitars introduce their multi-tracked vocals intoning the titular aphorism. Or “Talk,” the album’s first single, volleying bongos and bird-like call-and-responses back and forth until the booming flares of bass kick in. “That was a conscious decision, to keep it flowing yet have moments where it dipped down, and other moments where it was a bit more upbeat, but keeping the theme the same,” explains Vallance, who says the record serves as a journal of their growing brotherly bond during the songwriting process. “It made sense, with Days Gone By, with us being on the road and making the record.”
“I was going to say it’s like our philosophical treatise, but it’s not,” muses Howie. “You’ve gotta lead with the music.”
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