Under Review: Rock Plaza Central – …At The Moment Of Our Most Needing

There are many performers who, intentionally or not, benefit greatly from the inactivity of other performers. Imagine, for example, what Jim Belushi’s career would be like if his brother were still alive or how empty Demetri Martin’s performances would be if Mitch Hedberg hadn’t died. Of course, this phenomenon applies to more than just dead comedians. Rock Plaza Central, for better or for worse, are doing a whole lot better than they would if Neutral Milk Hotel were still together. Luckily for leader Chris Eaton, he can pen his tales of robotic horses and magical wars without fear of being overshadowed by the reclusive Jeff Magnum. On Rock Plaza Central’s new album, …At The Moment Of Our Most Needing, Eaton seemingly puts the story arc of the previous albums on hiatus as he presents a string of heart-wrenching and haunting songs about, well, who really knows? The album opens with “Oh I Can,” admittedly not nearly an engaging a start as “I Am An Excellent Steel Horse” from 2006’s stellar Are We Not Horses?, but still a fine introduction. Once the band gets into songs like “(Don’t You Believe The Words Of) Handsome Men” and “Them That Are Good And Them That Are Bad,” a wondrous transformation occurs. No longer are they a ragtag bunch of Canadian troubadours, but true purveyors of emotional music. Though Eaton’s voice is as much an instrument as the piercing trumpets and often noisy guitars, …At The Moment features several instrumentals that show off the group’s melodic expertise. Even if “The Long Dead March” were left untitled, you’d still be able to infer the title’s depth and eeriness. Even some of the songs with words can come off as wordless, as the band’s impeccable harmonies tend to repeat phrases until they decay into mere sounds. The campfire, tribal nature of Rock Plaza Central’s music might draw from countless influences of yore, but they remain one of the most fascinating bands around today.

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~ by E. on August 10, 2009.

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