Moon Under Water – First Quarter

I’ve been living with Moon Under Water’s debut EP for so long that they’ve just released the follow up – before I’d had the chance to post this long-promised review. Moon Under Water describe themselves as “..a meeting of musical minds from Leicester, Liverpool, and Basildon (England). A post-punk core but pressing beyond that….” As a longtime fan of bands such as The Chameleons, The Sound, and Joy Division, the blurb caught my eye. Fortunately, the music more than lives up to the band’s own description. The band is comprised of Audrey Eade on vocals, Elliot Wheeler on guitars, Robert Eade on bass & keyboards, and Adrian Janes on drums / percussion. My first thought was that the songs reminded me of the more ethereal qualities of the Cocteau Twins with a healthy dash of guitar work reminiscent of The Chameleons. High praise indeed, and yet that opinion has only solidified with additional spins.

Golden Age kicks the proceedings off with a bit of jangle pop, a bit of C-86 vibes coming through strong. The lyrics are suitably cast in shades of regret, a perfect introduction to the band. Nostalgia for Now is even stronger than the opener, a post-punk inspired masterpiece. Sighing vocals, shimmering guitar work – everything you’d want in a post-punk song. Lyrically, this is inspiring stuff – about days gone by. “Wanting to free an instant / And keep its warmth somehow / It’s melting away.” Take Your Burden lightens the atmosphere after the 1-2 punch of the openers. A dreamy song that soothes musically and lyrically. EP closing number Reflective reminds me of View From a Hill by The Chameleons – in a positive way. A slower anthem that burns brightly. Beautifully layered guitar interplay makes for an enchanting listening experience. A perfect way to end this debut EP.

The EP is available right now via Bandcamp. I’m looking forward to spending time with the just released follow up – this is a band to start following.

Verdict: Promising debut

For fans of: The Chameleons, The Sound, Cocteau Twins, BMX Bandits,

 

Death Threat Cassette – Infinite Trick Pony

I’ve been following England’s Death Threat Cassette for about a decade now. Death Threat Cassette rose from the ashes of Jack Endino produced grunge influenced band Solanoid – singer Lee Pecqueur gone solo. A one-man band, this is truly bedroom rock. And yet – the quality of these Death Threat Cassette albums is nothing to sneer at. The albums still feel imbued to a bit of the Seattle sound whilst adding in elements of country, hip hop, and whatever else comes to mind for Lee. Each album provides an exhilarating listen and demand repeat spins from the listener. After a brief period of inactivity, Death Threat Cassette released their 3rd album, Use Your Delusion in early 2021. The 4th album was just released a few weeks ago – barely a year later. Infinite Trick Pony delivers the goods in spades, with a few unexpected diversions.

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Oh Man Wow – s/t

Some of my favorite bands are the ones that avoid easy characterization. Indie band Oh Man Wow have just released their debut album, and this fits that description perfectly. The band is made up of Bryan Ray on vocals / guitar, Joy Maydak on bass / guitars / keyboards, Fred Jeske on guitars, Sam Schauer on guitars, Jerry Pellizzer on drums, David Ziegler on guitars, and Roy and Rich Randall on guitars. A collaborative project, the album varies in sound with a wide array of influences. For me, it finds that sweet spot most commonly heard in the 70’s – where hard rock, metal, prog, and power pop melt into one. The album was produced by Joe Maydak and mixed / mastered by Jordon Zadorozny (of Blinker the Star fame). It’s an impressive debut that is more than the sum of its parts.

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Andrew Steck – Theater

Andrew Steck is a composer based out of Athens, GA – yes, the home of R.E.M. His instrumental work is classical inspired infused with a modern pop sensibility. He’s been putting out albums at an aggressive rate, each with numerous highlights. Like so many others, my 2020 went a bit sideways so I did not get to review the album he released late in the year. Inner Loop / Outer Loop is a complex orchestral ballet – but it is so much more. As chance would have it, I ended up with a few vinyl copies and turned my Dad into a fan. One of the pleasures of moving home to Philadelphia after 18 years in the Pacific Northwest. But I digress – that’s last year’s news. Andrew’s new album is called Theater and is the equal to – if not better than – last year’s album. Conceived as a set of one act plays, each piece stands alone and also contributes to the overall vibe. Having seen my first Broadway show in New York City in over 20 years a few weeks ago (The Book of Mormon, thanks for asking), this record really spoke to me on a visceral level.

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Black Swan Lane – Hide in View

We last heard from Black Swan Lane during the last half of 2019 when they released the stellar LP Vita Eterna. The LP stood out as a highlight in the band’s oeuvre and featured guitar wizard Dave Fielding from the criminally underappreciated bands The Chameleons and The Reegs. At the time I wondered if Jack Sobel and company had backed themselves into a corner – where do you go from here? As it turns out, the world would soon change. The pandemic brought out the best and worst traits of humanity, leaving the world in a frightening polarized state. The last 18 months or so had band mastermind Jack Sobel in isolation, working diligently on the next Black Swan Lane record. An anomaly in the band’s catalogue – this is just Jack Sobel on record. No heralded guests from Manchester, England. No former musical partners. A solo album in all but name, Hide in View is the latest album from Black Swan Lane. And it lives up to the earlier critically acclaimed releases whilst adding some new twists to the sound. The album cover is simply stunning and is a sign of the music contained within.

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