Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

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Moondoggies: A Lot of People on My Mind
Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

Their name might not inspire much confidence -- the sort of band name 12-year olds think up -- but this rootsy, alt.country and indie-rock outfit from Seattle on a SubPop imprint label have a mainline connection to the same core of music (Neil Young, the Band) as informs the Felice Brothers, early Wilco and Richmond Fontaine.

They certainly know their way around a melody (the Everlys-meets-Jeff Tweedy on Emperor of the North) and singer Kevin Murphy (another of the beardy types populating this music) brings real presence to songs like the sad ballad Uncertain. And you can't fault not just the musicianship (organ, steel guitar and so on) nor how it works in the service of the songs.

They also bring an interesting dimension to the swirling Down the Well where the turbulent keyboards provide a slightly disconcerting mood and among the standouts is We Can't All Be Blessed towards the end which conjures up the melodic spirit of Fleet Foxes but keeps matters pleasingly underdressed and understated.

At some level -- as must be obvious -- Moondoggies do sound like a lot of other bands and perhaps that is the major shortcoming here. But they have also crafted an album which, as the title suggests, has an ebb and flow to it, and over repeat listenings it is one that takes you to its heart. And vice-versa.

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