For a band who started firmly in the punk category as teens, The Moondoggies sure have found an Americana swagger. Fronted by Kevin Murphy, this Washington band might just be ready to challenge the big hitters of the Americana scene.
The opening kick you get from ‘Red Eye’ will sustain you through the tempered ‘Annie Turn Out the Lights’ and ‘Midnight Owl’. Look deeper, however, and the themes present on Adios I’m a Ghost are nothing new; there is yearning, reflection and a strong will to move on from the past. The harmonies are almost on par with Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes, but don’t carry as sweet a melody.
One positive is that no song outstays its welcome. For every sombre and downtrodden ‘Pride’ there is ‘A Lot to Give’, with its gristly guitar sliding upwards to the midnight moon. This is a band who can switch from a touching track straight into a mean groove.
As a movement, Americana seems to have hit a peak. There is little surprising out there these days and, despite the pleasant guarantee of bands like The Moondoggies, it doesn’t stop you wondering how much longer this genre will last. Neva Dinova, My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band are all comparisons which are easy to make, and while these won’t be disappointing comparisons, they should make you realise that this isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. That said, ‘Back to the Beginning’ changes direction mid-stream and shows the potential for something grander than the usual fare.
If you want a reason to check out The Moondoggies then ‘Red Eye’ and ‘Don’t Ask Why’ will offer the most persuasive arguments. They bubble and pulsate enough to show promise. If the band this themselves then the combination of Americana with groove-rock could be a winning one next time out.