Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: The Moondoggies, You'll Find No Answers Here EP

The Moondoggies
You'll Find No Answers Here - EP

The Moondoggies are a four-piece band from Seattle, Washington who blend blues, soul, rock, and country to create an infectious sound that radiates with whiskey-soaked Americana. Their music is fresh, but familiar, harkening back to the woodsy, psychedelic sounds of greats like The Grateful Dead and The Band, while sharing elements with fellow west coasters Fleet Foxes and The Donkeys, namely soft harmonies and laid back guitars, but a bit rougher around the edges. The Moondoggies effortlessly combine all of these different components, comfortably living in a nearly unclassifiable genre (at least not without using multiple hyphens) with a sound that lies somewhere between the west coast and the south, classic rock and modern folk. There’s something endearing about these long-haired, bearded guys and the music they make, or maybe it’s the name.

Their debut album, Don’t Be a Stranger, provided a handful of great tracks, includingBlack Shoe,” “Ain’t No Lord,” andBogachiel Rain Blues,” and garnered them some attention from the blogosphere. Their new EP, You’ll Find No Answers Here, has more of what made that album a success - hook-heavy tunes backed by warm three-part harmonies, jangly guitars, and a Rhodes organ. The EP opens with “It’s Hard to Love Someone,” an upbeat country boogie whose piano melody and sing-along harmonies juxtapose its lyrical content about the trials and tribulations of love. From there, the music slows down, aligning with the overall melancholic mood of the lyrics, as dreary vocals and a softly plucked acoustic guitar serve as the only instrumentation on “Just Makes Sense to Me.” The third track, “Down the River,” is a departure from The Moondoggies’ traditional sound, but it works beautifully, and may be the EP’s best cut. Substituting the three-part harmonies for a female backing vocal adds a lovely dichotomy that mirrors the lyrical theme of unrequited love. The Moondoggies pick things up again and return to their bread and butter (see above) with “Sad and Lonely.” Finally, they close out the five-song EP with “Fly Mama Fly,” which poetically connects the themes established in the previous four songs over cascading guitars and vocal harmonies, telling us we’ll “find no answers here.” The EP lacks the same catchiness as the promising debut, but it seems to show more maturity and growth as songwriters, and is a tenderly crafted concept album that focuses on the pains of love. Oh, and these were just five songs that “didn’t make it onto their next proper studio” album, Tidelands, due out September 14.

Note: Catch The Moondoggies on tour with fellow Seattle band Blitzen Trapper.

-- Jared Iversen

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