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Moonband; The: Open Space

There have been a few occasions over the last couple of years where I've mentioned in a review the old adage of "Never judge a book by its cover". However in the case of Open Space, which is the debut album from The Moonband that sound piece of advice is taken to the extreme. At first glance, the beautifully illustrated cover art which depicts a bunch of hippyish looking astronauts kicking back in an alien environment, strongly suggests some neo-prog at its sci-fiy best. Then you flip open the front of the digi-pack to discover what can only be described as a 70's porn cast wearing some "like far out spaceman clothes.....mannnnn!" I kid you not! Skin tight boiler suits unzipped to the waist, old fashioned pilot helmets, plastic bowl headware and white rubber boots that would usually be worn in an abattoir! And all that with deadpan faces! So as I tentatively slipped the CD into the player for the first time, I didn't know whether to expect trippy space rock ala Hawkwind, or some neo-prog noodling. In the end though the truth is stranger than fiction, with of all things a superb, warm, mainly acoustic album's worth of singer songwriter folk rock being what this (obviously mad) Munich based quintet skilfully produce.

Opening track "Devil's Got A Piece Of Us" is a gloriously understated guitar and vocal meander through what sounds remarkably like American folk music, with the sparse arrangements allowing some stunning harmony vocals to carry a theme that reminds of something that Neil Young may have come up with if he had jammed with Simon & Garfunkel. The cleverly titled "Tom Waits" follows that up with a more groove oriented vibe, where the guitar work rather oddly sounds like something Hank Marvin may have come up with if he hadn't found an electric guitar. Yet again the vocals gently, yet firmly force their way to centre stage but this time the arrangements make for a far busier backdrop, with some wonderful mandolin playing adding a new texture. And so the album continues with the interesting folk basis being stretched with drops of Americana, prog and country music to form something that sounds comfortable and familiar, but bright and unusual at the same time. Songs like "The Hiker" stay more true to the folk roots of this bizarrely dressed bunch, whereas the mesmerising "Cross The River" relies on mandolin, ukulele and banjo to steer things in an altogether more country direction, but in a way that is oddly oriental at times.

In these days of downloading The Moonband have also put together a wonderful little booklet to accompany their CD entitled "The Fabulous Moon Book (Play Your Guitar Like The Odd Guys From The Moonband Do)" where little hints of tunings and tablature sit alongside the lyrics to the songs, but the only problem with attempting to play along with this album is that according to the diagrams, you actually need six fingers to play these songs ("Five fingers, six strings, silly humans").

As debuts go, Open Space is a quite wonderful album that is a great introduction to a band made for listening to on sunny afternoons on the porch, or come to think of it, rainy mornings staring at the drops on the window. Dreamy, assured and delightfully alluring, The Moonband may be a little bonkers, but they make an irresistible noise while they're at it.


Track Listing
1. Devil's Got A Piece Of Us
2. Tom Waits
3. The Internist
4. Top Of A Tree
5. Roll On Blues
6. In The Garden
7. We Don't Care
8. Days To Live
9. Cross The River
10. Boogeyman
11. Right Before Your Eyes
12. No Direction
13. The Hiker

Added: October 24th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Moonband Love You Web Site
Hits: 1483
Language: english

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Moonband; The: Open Space
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-10-24 20:50:34
My Score:

The Moonband hail from Munich Germany. Judging from the band name, album title (Open Space) and artwork I was expecting a cheesy sci-fi prog rock epic, or something along those lines but what we have here couldn't be more of a surprise. No, this is not prog at all but Americana folk/country acoustic music which sounds nothing like any German band I have heard. What's more surprising is the band do a very nice job.

Open Space is their first album and at almost an hour long there is a lot of music here. In the band are Katerina Kirková (vocals, mandolin, ukulele, glockenspiel), Elena Rakete (box, tom, cajon), Andy Armstrong (vocals, upright bass), Chris Houston (vocals, guitar, lap steel) and Eugen Mondbasis (vocals, guitar, banjo).

Open Space is a very easy album to listen to. The playing is sound, the melodies are quite nice and the vocals are excellent with no accent I can detect. The band has a very warm acoustic sound bearing some resemblance to acoustic Neil Young or Crosby Stills Nash & Young. The album opens with the gentle "Devil's Got a Piece of Us", a very calm song with nice vocals and melody. The tongue and cheek "Tom Waits" is a little more spry with a country/folk flavour while "Roll On Blues" ventures into country/blues territory with the guitar work carrying a little more twang. The rest of the album does not deviate from its folk/country roots. Some might find it overly long for this style of music and that would be perfectly understandable. I thought Open Space to be extremely listenable and quite pleasing to the ears. If you like folk music you probably can't go wrong. Looking forward to the new album due to be released in February, 2014.




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