Take away the tight jeans, shaggy dark hair, and undersized T-shirts, and you have the typical Clear Channel-tailored act with heavy guitar riffs and the occasional brooding and introspective song. Moments in Grace can be described in a brief statement: modern rock in a candy-coated emo shell. Major labels like Atlantic have perfected this new formula for “emerging” acts. Take a young band that’s still forming its own sound, throw in a big name producer, in this case Brian McTernan (The Movielife, Cave In, Hot Water Music), and craft the “ideal” modern rock record complete with a wealth of tracks so radio-friendly the band would fit perfectly at any commercial radio festival.
Despite McTernan’s laundry list of influential hardcore bands under his guidance and the production wizardry that emerges from his Salad Days studio, this record could not be saved. Throughout Moonlight Survived I drifted from bored and uninspired to completely despondent and pondering, “Who really would embrace this record?” The track arrangement resembles a smorgasbord of genres, from over-the-top commercial rock (tracks like “Stratus,” “The Patient” and “The Blurring Lines of Loss”) to emotionally heavy and overly Brit-pop influenced tracks like “My Stunning Bride.” After several listens, fans of Cave In’s Antenna will identify with the band’s attempt at molding modern rock, prog, and emo with the grandeur of arena rock. Sadly, I see the potential outcome for Moments in Grace very similar to Cave In’s…dropped from their major label and searching for a new home.
The album is average at best but it does have a single glimmer of hope resting on the shoulders of vocalist and primary songwriter Jeremy Griffin. With vocal stylings similar to Jim Atkins of Jimmy Eat World (plus hints of Tom Chaplin of Keane and Doug Robb of Hoobastank), Griffin’s voice is powerful and engaging, even when the music is redundant.
One would hope a band like this could save a little face and put on a true rock ’n’ roll show but sadly their appearance at the Bluebird Theater was nothing more than an extension of Moonlight Survived. The gloomy weather and the band’s heavy touring schedule could be blamed for the lack-luster performance but in truth these were mere excuses for a band that is destined for a lifetime on a Warped Tour side stage. The minimal stage movement and crowd interaction came across in a “too cool to be here” or “above pulling the curtain” fashion. The primarily underage crowd seemed lukewarm to the set, which included the current single “Stratus” — signaling that the band still hasn’t hit the CD player at local Hot Topic and Zumiez stores or attacked MySpace.com like so many of the bands of the same ilk.
After multiple spins of Moonlight Survived and sub-par experience at their live show, it’s obvious that Moments in Grace is too middle-of-the-road for hardcore fans. It pains me to think that they will return to Denver in several weeks with Hot Water Music, Planes Mistaken For Stars and Alexisonfire at the Ogden Theater. Possibly someone should call their agent and try to get them to open for Switchfoot at the Paramount Theater on October 15th instead?