Local Rockers the Moxies Show Some Real Swagger on New EP

Since the release of their 2013 self-titled debut album, the Moxies have practically taken over the Cleveland music scene. The past three years have been particularly busy ones. When they weren’t in Cleveland playing, they were down in Nashville working with Lincoln Parish, former guitarist of Cage the Elephant, on new music.

Well, the new music is finally here, and it’s only a preview of what’s to come. Led by vocalist and guitarist Marco Ciofanni and bassist Tyler Adams, the three-piece band plays the Beachland Ballroom on Friday to celebrate the release of its four-song EP, Black Shadow.

With rock music in desperate need of revitalization, the Moxies are the band to bring the genre back to life. Classic, searing guitar riffs match equally ferocious vocals that are offset by mellow bass and steady percussion; each song the band puts out is packed with rock ’n’ roll attitude.

What used to be a decent sized audience of dedicated friends and family at the bands shows has now turned into a loyal fanbase. Word is spreading that Cleveland is about to launch another rock band into the limelight, and this EP is the beginning of that ascent.

“A lot of people were just asking for it and they deserve to get some new music from us,” says Ciofani when asked about the EP. “We had tons of songs to choose from, but we all agreed that these four were the strongest at the time.”

With only four songs clocking in at 13 minutes and 21 seconds, that’s all the Moxies need to keep fans at bay. These four songs possess enough complexity to be played non-stop until the album arrives.

Since choosing the four songs included on Black Shadow, Ciofani says the band has written stronger songs, but he says that this EP “is a good representation of what we have going on right now.”

It’s only fitting that the EP is entitled after one of their most beloved songs. Full of powerful guitar riffs and soaring vocals that reach new heights with every verse, the title track, which the band regularly plays live, practically makes crowds collapse when the drums first start thumping, signaling the start of a classic.

From “Black Shadow,” the energy spills into “Blood Red Moon,” an intriguing blend of exotic vocals and early Strokes-like vibes. With the first two songs being fast-paced and high-energy, “Fire” offers the perfect contrast. Those infamous Ciofani guitar riffs rip the song open, leaving plenty of room for slow, smooth and dreamy vocals to dance around for the next three minutes.

This juxtaposition of calm vocals and anything-but-calm music distinguishes the band’s music. Most bands prefer to let the lead vocalist reign the stage, but with the Moxies that isn’t the case. The bass, drums, vocals and guitar are all used to weave a complex tapestry of sound; sometimes, the percussion get’s a bigger portion of the tapestry, like in “Black Shadow,” and other times it’s the bass that takes center stage, like in “Martian,” the last track on the EP.

Perhaps the most stylistically distinct song on Black Shadow, “Martian” has more of a bluesy, Johnny Cash feel to it.

“For me, songwriting usually just starts with a guitar riff, and I play the hell out of it for a long time,” says Ciofani. “I play it loud, and then the lyrics come after that. But it usually always starts with a guitar riff, and I play the shit out of it.”

“Playing the shit out of it” is exactly what fans love about the band's approach.

The Moxies, Bro Dylan, White Buffalo Woman, Brave Bones, 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Wateroo Rd., 216-383-1124. Tickets: $10 ADV, $12 DOS, beachlandballroom.com.
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