by Sean Jewell::
Let me tell you something now. Come closer. Read harder. I do not suggest you go to this show, I insist.
When The Moondoggies released Don’t Be A Stranger in 2008, music was a confusing place. It was a heady time, one that birthed the soporific harmonies of Fleet Foxes, and Band of Horses. Seattle’s best rap outfit was Common Market. They put out their best work called Tobacco Road, their only real competition was maybe The Saturday Knights. The Dutchess and the Duke were the actual most exciting folk band Seattle had. But where was the country? the soul? the goddamned rock n roll?
It was hard times. Come fall the leaves fell, and the sky grew dark. The soundscape was blinding. It seemed as if all music had been written just so the world could go into hibernation. Then: The Moondoggies.
Don’t Be a Stranger dropped with a thud and a twang, it writhed with electricity, its organs whirred and squealed like a grinding wheel, its harmonies were not just three part, they were . . . exciting. There was grit and gristle all over this thing. Loosely played bass and guitar jangled and churned and the band harmonized, “ain’t no lorrrrrrrd gonna judge me now,” there was soul in them thar hills.
The Moondoggies had tapped into something the rest of the world somehow forgot: the smoky sound of lo-fi, the holiness of gospel harmony used to sing the blues, the heart-rending heaviness of an honest bass run, the uplifting soul sound of rock organ, the goddamn power in the strings of a Gibson SG. Not Kevin Murphy and Caleb Quick. They had made an album that everyone from KEXP to NPR would compare to The Byrds, and Neil Young (and for once the comparison landed! It hit the nail on the head). “Black Shoe” could’ve been by Lovin Spoonful, “Bogachiel Rain Blues” is just a song The Band never got around to recording. “Ol’Blackbird” squawks and struts and wails with rockin’ soul, The Byrds had to have written that, right?
Don’t Be a Stranger was the single best thing that happened in 2008, The Moondoggies‘ songs were the antithises of the gauzy, blurred pop of the time. They kicked, and howled, and when they did slow it down their harmonies were drunken barroom howls around the piano or guitar, their twinkling soundscapes were cosmic, revelatory jams.
They’re playing the album in full with the support of Ole Tinder, and Mr. Midnight Sky at LoFi on Friday night. They’ll also be releasing the album on cassette. I insist that you go.