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Moonshine Hooligans: Subterranean Secrets

Moonshine Hooligans is a psychedelic folk rock duo consisting of brothers (I assume) Matt and Stuart Watson. They hail from Charlottesville, VA and their debut, Subterranean Secrets, is a fairly original and pleasant outing. And at under a half an hour in length, it's a brief slice of Americana optimism that's easy to absorb.

The "Intro" sets the mood nicely with some warm vocals and acoustic and piano chords. The production includes light backward effects and overall it's reminiscent of Fleet Foxes (which is fine since this type of music is rare these days). It segues into "B is for Banjo" with are you ready? Banjo! Actually it's a pretty hypnotic arpeggio and the string accompaniment and trippy effects are perfectly suited.

More lovely harmonies open "The Knife Waltz," which is the most developed song so far. The music is fairly mellow during the intervals between verses, and once they begin, it's like The Flaming Lips on Ritalin; the timbres are similar but the level of excitement and eccentricity is not. The inclusion of horns adds a delicate and interesting layer. "The Country Line" features some remarkable finger picking on guitar as the piano complements the sentiment presented by the melody and lyrics. The track builds more harmonies and a touch of psychedelic organ, allowing it to end in a very affective way.

"Moonshine Theme" introduces a blue grass factor with its fiddles, clapping and clattering bottle sound effect. It's easy to picture Moonshine Hooligans performing this on a porch or bar in the south. This environment is sustained on "Arcadia," which is the most engaging song melodically (it could easily be the album's single). Watson sings of his travels to small towns (what else would music like this be about?) and the bass expertly leads the song. The middle section changes things up a bit with sounds of traffic and slightly ominous guitar and string intervals. The only thing missing is someone blowing into a jug.

Fading in with harmonica is "Final Story of the Night." It's a straightforward tale of a man in prison and the harmonica, guitar and piano work together wonderfully to craft a blanket of subtext around the lyrics. Finally, the album concludes with "Moonshine Dub," which adheres to the psychedelic trademark of having the vocals (Watson saying random words) fly around the stereo channels. Musically, an organ leads the track, allowing the other instruments to appear when needed. The chord progression creates a surprising level of melancholy and honestly, the duo should've created an actual song around music so moving.

Subterranean Secrets is a modest debut by a very talented duo. The music is never really thrilling and the songwriting is nothing special, really, but Moonshine Hooligans succeed in combining the genres they set out to. It boils down to this: some music is made to excite with its energy and production while others are meant for the quiet moments in life. Subterranean Secrets isn't an ideal choice for a party or to impress people, but on those long train rides full of sunshine and inner reflection, it's a perfect soundtrack.


Track Listing
1. Intro
2. B is for Banjo
3. The Knife Waltz
4. The County Line
5. Moonshine Theme
6. Arcadia
7. Final Story of the Night
8. Moonshine Dub

Added: September 24th 2010
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Score:
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 444
Language: english

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