Mozes and the Firstborn release debut album

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Photo from Mozes and the Firstborn Facebook page
Photo from Mozes and the Firstborn Facebook page

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Bob Dylan. I always thought his whiney half-singing seemed a bit out of place for his heart-wrenching tales of social injustice and the evils of war. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is a legend and a fantastic musician, but these were topics that had world-wide, history-shaping implications and drawling them out just never struck me as appropriate. It was like he wasn’t putting in emotional effort to rise to the scope of his topics.

And then there’s Mozes and the Firstborn, from Eindhoven, Antwerp, Netherlands. Now, I’m sure they have high aspirations, but they’ve chosen to start in low places. Although I sometimes find myself turned off by the occasionally self-excusing antisocial lyrics, they have an undeniable charisma that has me perusing their YouTube channel despite myself.

Deploying a gritty, punk-influenced indie rock sound that alternates between Dropkick Murphies baudy bar tunes like “I’ve Got Skills” and “Gimme Some,” and The Shins’ haunting wispiness in “Skinny Girl,” there is something … confusing about Mozes and the Firstborn. They are at once heartfelt and uncaring, motivated yet sincere.

I was turned off during my first listen to “Skinny Girl,” thinking it was another raunchy ballad clothed in romantic pretense, until I realized it was a motivational anthem for a girl battling anorexia. I don’t know who writes their lyrics, but he must be a heartbreaker.

And, again despite myself, but with good reason this time, I find myself drawn to the half-spoken lyrics. It seems fitting here; I prefer Janis Joplin’s passionate rasp for tales of woe and social desperation, but when it comes to petty romance, indie bar anthems, and raucous fun, the half-talking feels like it makes sense, and makes these guys identifiable amongst the throngs of mournful indie rockers who all started to sound the same in the mid 2000’s.

They have a few tracks that show their potential to maintain the hot, dry energy of 80’s punk while integrating the more emotional approach of modern indie rock and I have to say, I’m slowly being seduced.

Photo from Mozes and the Firstborn Facebook page
Photo from Mozes and the Firstborn Facebook page

All in all, if these guys can grow up a bit, without growing up too much, I think they have real potential. The whole group has great timing and seems to never miss a beat. The lead singer has the rare kind of voice that can be gritty, romantic and hint at just the right amount of self-pity to make him compelling. If they can integrate their deeper indie direction a bit more into their obvious punk influences without losing their grit, they have the potential to wield a deadly combination of maniacal, heedless fun and ethereal sincerity, something I haven’t heard done right since punk rock’s heart turned black in the 90’s.

You can find Mozes and the Firsborn on Facebook, Twitter and their Website.

They will have a U.S. tour, with California stops in San Francisco at the Bottom of the Hill, March 5 and then two shows at the Observatory in Santa Ana, March 22-23.