For the record, these acoustic balladeers are everywhere I go. Maybe we’ve talked. I don’t know. They have more friends than me. Their hair is about the same length as mine. I would say their gaits are a tad heavier. But then, so are their frames. It’s evident from their music that their heads, arms and lips are possibly resplendent with heartfelt thoughts.
In some cities, it’s thought to be more embarrassing than artistic to sing very, very earnestly about love. But up here in Northern California, in the safety of the warm sun, a romantic thought can not only pop into someone’s head, but be written down too. I’m sure this happens everywhere in the world, but maybe more so in Berkeley, where the Moore Brothers have lived — and so did I — for a long time. Everyone there (except the nuclear scientists) is a poet and a dreamer. Perhaps this is our punishment for living in such a place — too many impractical, lofty thoughts, a proclivity toward liking lots and lots of things, and many steep hills. The Moore Brothers’ dewy, narcoleptic ballads complement both the spring and the summer. On Now Is the Time for Love, their songs unfold in a West Coast manner — aimless and not terribly self-assured.
Quite mellow, a little silly and very dear, Now Is the Time for Love draws inspiration from folkies like Leo Kottke, Cat Stevens and John Lennon more than any recent music. With the help of a Beatles lick on “Mint Mouth Motorhead,” as well as a few more good ideas from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one Moore boy sings: “Hits me all at once/ sparkle dry leaf kite grass bite/ click red/ back to my greenhouse/ my music sheds/ my cool mint mouth motorhead.” Even if half of their songs are some variation of the Beatles’ “Girl,” somehow the sound is very of the moment.
When I first heard the Moore Brothers on the radio three years ago, I was driving down the highway. The greatest radio deejay in the Northern Hemisphere, DJ Kitty, was prodding them with her sly childlike voice, and they sang their song with the very memorable chorus, “I was saved by fascination.” (FYI, San Francisco has a certain movie theater of ill repute called “Fascination.”) I remembered this song for years, in a very good way. The words are about one experience, and the sound is about another — just as you might find yourself having one conversation just to stifle another conversation you could be having otherwise.