Live Review

CMJ Sub Pop / Hardly Art Showcase: The Moondoggies, Mercury Lounge, NY

Vocal harmonies and twangy guitar.

The tone of Moondoggies’ set at the Sub Pop / Hardly Art showcase is determined after the first song, when lead singer Kevin Murphy asks for more vocals in the monitors and is greeted with a joyous heckle of ‘You need more plaid!’; he chuckles and continues straight into the next song.

In fact, the Moondoggies, whose attitude and attire, not to mention facial hair, are reflective of their Seattle origins, provide a healthy mix of a demure attitude and soft-spoken, at times too quiet, charm with folksy music, replete with vocal harmonies and twangy guitar. Crammed into the Mercury Lounge, playing with jetlag, without their own equipment, or even their usual bassist, the energy of the band is fairly low, especially in the beginning of the set, when despite some fine harmonizing between the members and the retro-pop sounds of the keyboards, their first few songs fall short.

However, after the harmonica-twinged ‘Bogachiel Rain Blues’, the band’s energy and talent come alive echoing strong ‘60s folk influences from Bob Dylan on ‘Blues’ to Tom Petty on ‘Changing’, and even a bit of Zeppelin on epic closer ‘Night & Day’. Rather than coming off as another band obsessed with folk rock, they infuse folk and blues into every song with a steady earnest warble that brings a feeling of down-home sincerity amidst the punky, cheeky feel of most of the CMJ showcase, while still allowing for enough angst to make even the members of Pissed Jeans bat an eyelid or two.

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