Emerging from the remnants of longtime Atlanta psych stalwarts Abby Gogo is MORE, Jon Allinson’s impassioned reprisal. Formed in fall 2019, MORE is Jon on guitar and vocals, twin brother Bon Allinson (ex-Abby Gogo, ex-A Drug Called Tradition) on bass, and Jimmy Eastwood on drums. The trio has released its debut EP Immortal on all digital streaming services.
The EP arrived on Thurs., May 7, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that has confronted nearly all independent and DIY artists with many challenges. Among them is that of promoting a band’s work without touring or playing live shows, something MORE planned to do a fair amount of throughout 2020. The trio had earned a decent following through its live shows in Atlanta’s DIY scene since its inception.
Yet, even with the circumstances of a global pandemic, MORE quickly adapted. What is music, if not malleable? In support of the EP’s release, the trio put together an art installation at the intersection of Krog and Wylie just outside of the Krog Street tunnel in Cabbagetown. The installation featured large pink wooden letters spelling M-O-R-E with pink potted petunias available for bypassers to take home. This installation took the place as MORE’s would-be release show. Furthermore, it became a balancing agent for the EP’s lyrical content.
“The subject matter in the songs can be a bit dark,” Jon told us in an email interview. “Doing something light with the intention of brightening someone’s day seemed appropriate. We tossed around a few ideas. The early ideas were pretty illegal and risky as far as street art goes. We had to think of something that could be easily removed if necessary and also aesthetically pleasing. I mean, who is going to get mad at free flowers? It came pretty naturally once we put our heads together. Unfortunately, we had to take it down, but we do plan on putting it back up in a different location soon.”
The six-track EP — recorded and produced by Matt McCalvin over Thanksgiving weekend last year and released via the group’s very own label Louder than Dreams — is rife with the ideas of time, loss, and closure. The first track, “No Time At All,” lets the listeners know from the beginning that there is, well, no time at all. Jon’s vocals float from some distant place to settle in somewhere between the raucous drum work and thundering guitars. In the following track, “Yerkes,” things become a little clearer. MORE wants you to hear this. For the first time, and assuredly not the last time, a loss is given the spotlight on this album.
“This song was written when I was working in the mental health field,” explained Jon. “This one patient, a young woman, would call her mother every day crying and begging to let her come home. Eventually, her mother gave in. She left on a Thursday. She was dead from an overdose by Saturday. Yerkes means ‘tiller of soil.’ It was also her last name.”
The outros on Immortal are spellbinding, with dramatic bridges taking us from one song to the next. Some of the more gorgeous textures found in Immortal reside in its transitional work, as evidenced by the downright funky, modulating sound in the waning seconds found in “Yerkes.” This funnels us into the next track, “14 Seconds” — a swooning interlude heavily reminiscent of ‘90s shoegaze, with harmonic guitars and hovering synths recalling genre mainstays such as Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. Here, we are yet again confronted with the notion of time. Jon sings in his now-patented filtered vocal track, “Time seems to come apart, 14 seconds from the start … Oh, I could get lost in there.” The song is a swift lay-up to “Psych Ward Socks,” where things are just utter madness from the start. Jon’s brooding vocals and layered guitars develop a keen synergy with Eastwood’s pulverizing drums and Bon’s chugging bass.
In “Form and Void,” MORE gets the job done in under three minutes. The vocals are most shrouded here. The song could soundtrack a motorcycle bar brawl or a scene from “True Detective” season one. Everything about the track feels dark and bluesy, with a ripping, hard-edged guitar riff punctuating every measure bursting through the song’s thick wall of sound. It’s harsh, but extremely welcomed.
On the album’s closer, “Black Denim Bookends,” listeners are given a bit of sunshine. The intro sounds happier than anything that came before it, with an upbeat bass line, shimmering guitars, and gentle tapping of drum cymbals. It serves as the final bookend for the album, but is actually the first song to be written by Jon for MORE’s catalog.
“This was the first song I had written after years of not writing or really even playing,” he explains. “I had this song in my head for a while before I actually plucked it out. It deals with a particular past relationship, old wounds, and a journey through self-improvement. It’s a very cathartic song that set the course for MORE.”
The rhythm is the closest to mainstream rock that MORE has aspired to in the EP’s 26-minute runtime. Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, all of the track’s sensibilities wash out into a blissful synth with about a minute left to spare. It’s like watching the bluest wave hit the sandiest shore.
Even in Immortal’s darkest and heaviest moments, there’s a fated optimism in its sound that leaves the listener hopeful they’ll be hearing from MORE once again. Although touring and live shows are a no-go for the foreseeable future, MORE is not resting on any laurels. The band intends to release a new single and video next month, along with ideas for future coinciding art installations.