The Leaving Trains

Favorite Mood Swings: Greatest Hits

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Too many indie bands have never really learned how to rock & roll. Fortunately, for 18 years, L.A.'s Leaving Trains have never forgotten. Not many of their eight LPs have been true masterpieces (there is one for sure: 1986's killer Kill Tunes, which serves up the first four tracks here); Singer/guitarist "Falling" James Moreland, the band's lone constant, always insists on warts-'n'-all, crank-'em-up, let-'em-fly productions. Hey, he was doing that long before it became fashionable (before Sebadoh and GBV even formed), without ever resorting to lo-fi home studio production. Every Trains record has sounded loud, not cheap! So while Moreland can be accused of inconsistency, both in his albums and his myriad lineups, there's no denying that Moreland's untamed, unwieldy, humming punk-'n'-roll records have rumbled through a dozen post-R&B rock & roll styles with real abandon. This collection leaves today's legions of smug and ironic, or (most of all) horribly insular, one-dimensional bands gasping in the restrictive boxes they've nailed themselves into. Thus, now is a good time for a Trains overview -- a smart idea for a hit-and-miss band, too. There's not a boring minute on this extended-length, 25-cut CD. Perhaps a case can be made that two dozen tracks are AWOL, but FMS heads for the songs that smack one silly in adrenaline rush and pent-up pounding. In your face? You betcha! In short, Moreland wants to mess with you, because he thinks rock is a challenge, an incitement, a need to get wild and free, not a polite party or a postmodern reflection. This CD is the best evidence that Leaving Trains would gladly destroy your party instead, with the sheer force of brash, soul, chops, and attitude, and they won't wait around for your gratitude.

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