Reference CD Review: moe.

Sticks and Stones Fatboy
Music •••• Sound ••••½

After a couple of studio albums built from live rhythm tracks of songs that had already matured onstage, Sticks and Stones represents a more traditional approach for moe. Recorded entirely in the studio, the disc features eight brand-new songs (plus two obscure tunes from the concert repertoire). Unlike the extended improvisations of the band's epic shows, these 10 numbers run just over 40 minutes - moe.'s shortest album to date, but far from short on diversity.

Guitars, drums, and vibes - all in a customarily scrumptious sound mix - are augmented by an emphasis on vocal harmonies and fiddle flourishes ("Cathedral," "Conviction Song"). We also get Stones-style rock ("Deep This Time," "All Roads Lead to Home"), a quirky instrumental ("Z0Z"), and a rousing finale ("Raise a Glass"). How the new material will morph after it has been played live for a while is anybody's guess, but captured fresh out of the box, it sounds like a band still going strong after 18 years.

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