With their seventh album, just one year after "Glimpses of Greenwood", the Licorice Roots are just as strong and sunshiny as ever. Three years after Magnet Magazine named them "one of the most underrated bands of the past ten years," their tin-jangling pop is no less enjoyable. With frontman Edward Moyse’s off-kilter vocals and distorted aluminum guitars, these songs have an eerie, toxic sweetness. Listen long enough, you’ll develop super powers or diabetes, but though they’re sticky and sweet, Licorice Roots always taste delicious. A definite find.
"On Repeat: Licorice Roots: "Glimpses" [MySpace]"
"Glimpses" kicks off with a vaguely medieval, goofily grand hitch and roll, and we're off to see the wizard. After the dragon-hunting overture, Licorice Roots plunge into the woozily pitching heart of the song, which is dominated by permutations of the same glowing guitar phrase-- and from there, they never look back. Like Hendrix's national anthem for fantasy buffs, impassioned tone and mystical aura are the guideposts. The guitar lead buzzes, peaks, and keens its glossolaliac incantation, periodically swooning into tonally-damaged bleats. Angelic synth hums occasionally provide strange updrafts, but for the most part there's nothing too sly happening here; it's an instance of one good idea being milked for all it's worth. More, please.
Licorice Roots "Hey There Little Love"
Shambling, disjointed psychedelic roots rock that has to be the best thing to come out of Delaware since … actually, this is the first good thing to ever come from the Blue Hen State.
Caves of the Sun
Let me preface Licorice Roots by saying they're an acquired taste. I admit I almost didn't last twenty seconds into their record. Their wobbly, off-kilter sound knocked me off balance at first. At first. But I held strong and as soon as I ventured four tracks deep, their song "Hey There Little Love" saved the CD from certain eject-death. I learned to appreciate Licorice Roots for their peculiar low-fi-ness. It's as if The Seeds were playing underwater, with a sprinkle of attitude courtesy of Ween. My swimming trunks are on and I'm in mid-cannonball, ready to take the Licorice Roots plunge! P.S. If the vocals are a bit much for you, check out the title track "Caves of the Sun." It'd make a great soundtrack to a SpongeBob SquarePants Spaghetti Western.
The Review: Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Delaware
Vol. 130 - Number 23
Newark's moody, space-rock Licorice Roots is back with its fourth enchanting release, " Caves of the Sun."
"Caves of the Sun" is a sometimes crazy ride, as it sounds like it was recorded on tape and then thrown into water, giving the album a washed-out, blurry sound. Sometimes, the instruments sound out of sync, and may leave the listener thinking the CD is warped, but rest assured -- it's art and it's supposed to sound this way.
Edward Moyse's echoed and heavily reverbed vocals are unique, to say the least. His layered, uneven voice sounds like a brilliant mix between David Bowie and a highpitched Tom Waits, if that is even imaginable.
Most of the tracks highlight Moyse's vocals, with accompanying acoustic/electric guitars, piano and organ. The instrumental title track sounds like a low-budget movie score, with acoustic guitars playing along with what sounds like a warped string ensemble.
Even though Licorice Roots maintain a low profile in Newark, it has a surprising list of clips from magazines around the world, including CMJ Music Report and Melody Maker. The band was even included in the now-defunct Sassy magazine's "Cute Band Alert." A band with these credentials and exposure owe it to people to get its music heard by more than just critics.
Licorice Roots needs to play out more often, as it is a guess that the album material would come to life when played live.
"Caves of the Sun" emits a relaxed, tranquil feel that would fit in with any coffee shop setting. Word to the wise: check this band out before it decides to move to England to become a cult hit.
The Licorice Roots, with their third long-player, "Shades of Streamers", have managed to create a cosmic masterpiece that's both whimsical and catchy.
The Newark trio, with their follow-up to "Melodeon", have mastered their baroque-a-delic formula with their unique mixture of mellotron swirls, overdriven phased guitars, and warbling vocals.
The 14 tracks on "Shades of Streamers" float along like a good dream - the type that you can feel afterward, but can't really remember.
Some tracks, like the surreal "Starswept Dancer" and the strange "Come My Way, sound as if the instruments were recorded in separate rooms, but have an underlying mood which keeps everything together.
"Shades of Streamers" is a cosmic trip through the world of the Licorice Roots that swallows all misery whole.
Two albums in and Edward Moyse's band, the once Raymond Listen and future Licorice Roots, is still an enigma. What's plain is the multi-instrumentalist and singer Moyse's infatuation with pop freaks and folk-outs. The new album, Melodeon, abounds with the instant graification of psychedelic swirl and pop charms. The drone-eloquent "Oval River"wigs-out in a space rock vein before heading towards terra firma and some roots-rock dressing. Melodeon still sounds like magic, despite its continuous extraction of past pop sounds and shapes. Licorice Roots is magic in the same way that Etch-A-Sketch was billed as a Magic Screen. In the beginning, all is a dull, grey blank screen until the creative process starts rolling. And, afterwards, when it's finished, you shake it up and start all over again. Always the same format, always a different result.
CMJ New Music Monthly #49
At a time when "spacey music" and "out sounds" usually describe sterile jams, the Licorice Roots are refreshing, if not downright surprising. The band finds warmth in psychedelic space. A sound so narrowly specialized runs the risk of the style overwhelming the substance, but the Licorice Roots interpret that style through their songs, and not the other way around. "Melodeon" and "Oval River" are two of the most engaging tracks here: poppy, but not cleanly so: trippy and jammy in a way that's not self-indulgent. What's most surprising of all, though, is how uncontrived the record comes off: It sounds frighteningly familiar, but it's genuinely good in its own right. Expansion from a fixed point is rarely done this well, or to this degree of depth.
-- Liz Clayton
"Licorice Root Orchestra"
This, their divine debut, works as an ensemble piece. These 13 dream-dipped delights provide the perfect soundtrack to some sepia-tinted silent movie and manage to pull off the near-impossible: they are appealingly gauche but never gormless, naive but never nerdy. Most are under three minutes, their wealth of tiny details strung on a delicate, twittering frame.
"September in the Night" and "Cloud Symphonies" are pop songs like you've never heard them, impressionistic, hazy things that throb with wobbly, sub-aquatic strings and a piano that sounds like it's floating up from the cellar. You can thank Shimmy's chief kook, Kramer, for that, of course. There's a general air of uneasiness beneath the charm, though, of Something Nasty never far away. "Lemon Peel Medallion", for example, is full of fairground melancholy, while "Tangled Weeks" begins like the band started playing something else and then had to quickly change tack. Like most of these tunes, it moves to a strange, seesaw waltz, tinkling with glockenspiel, flute, finger cymbals, and piano.
"Licorice Root Orchestra" is a delicate work of weird genius; violet-tinted, sherbert-sweet, and lonely as Coney Island on a wet Sunday. Dip in.