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Hung Up on Alt-Pop

Moodroom - Hung Up On Breathing
(Fowl Records)
4 Stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: February 9, 2002


By Tony Bonyata

Remember in the early '90s when rock music seemed to matter? A time when the music scene didn't need a nu-metal lobotomy or the sugary fluff of teeny bopper bands didn't rot out the charts. When bands like The Pixies, Jane's Addiction, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and countless other unique bands burned onto the scene like a hot poker in the retina. I do. And until other bands follow Radiohead's suit in creating something new and engaging, although not necessarily in the same direction, I'll slap on Gish and Surfer Rosa any day until something better comes along.
Well, it may not be better, but Washington, DC quintet Moodroom may just be the closest thing to what alternative rock started out as - before the term alt-rock became the newest cash-phrase for the big record companies.
On Moodroom's debut album Hung Up On Breathing, the comparisons to Lollapalooza brethren such as The Breeders, Veruca Salt, The Pumpkins and Garbage are surely to be drawn. But rather than trying to conjure up a scene that, unfortunately, has come and gone, they instead seem to proudly rise from the smoldering ashes of an earlier alternative nation. Lead by the sultry vocals of singer / lyricist / guitarist Stef Magro and surrounded by atmospheric guitars and a dynamic rhythm section, Moodroom melds well-written songs, brimming with indelible pop hooks, with emotionally driven hard rock.
With a mix of flexed-muscle trip-hop ("Vivid Blurry" and "Gone"), slinky rockers ("Clear"), Blondie-meets-Goldie ("Blue Skies and All That") and heavy rock that caresses the heart while crunching bones to mulch ("Loving" and "Soft Distortion") Moodroom proves to be one of the new hopes for rock music. And with Perry Farrell resurrecting his Lollapalooza festival later this year (the early '90s musical circus that helped put alternative music on the map), he couldn't find a better fit for his line-up than this talented act.

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