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Published: 2010/10/18
by Brian Robbins

Moondoggies
Tidelands

Hardly Art

Well, here’s the perfect album for those folks who don’t want a bunch of happy, buoyant tunes brightening up an otherwise gloom-sodden day.

Oh, it’s not that bad, really … I guess. The Moondoggies tucked away a few notes of hope on Tidelands, but, come on: show me one song – just one – that doesn’t have its share of minor chords, would ya?

I suppose there’s something to be said for the fact that lead Moondoggie Kevin Murphy felt comfortable enough with his audience (and himself) to use the opportunity of recording an album to work through a bunch of things. God bless ya, Kevin – I hope you felt better once you got these ten tunes out of your system.

Now don’t get me wrong – though the overall tone of Tidelands may be a somber one, there’s beauty to be had, as well. There’s a moment of glorious bass-driven doo-wop pain on “What Took So Long” that’s just as fine as Walter Egan’s “Magnet And Steel” in its prime, for instance – with a monster guitar break, to boot. (And just to show that wasn’t a fluke, the boys tuck their beards into their flannel shirts and slick their hair back for a little more under-the-streetlight serenading on “Can’t Be In The Middle”.)

And talk about harmonies and vocal swirls: check out “We Can’t All Be Blessed”, which is basically a 2:20-long song with 2 minutes and 56 seconds of eventual fade-out beyond that. (A rather Megafaunish approach to things, actually. And there’s nothing wrong with that.) And how about “Uncertain”, where the Doggies let fly vocally against guest Chris Zasche’s steel guitar? Now that’s some sweet stuff. So’s Seth Warren’s drive-by violin on “Lead Me On”. And though “A Lot of People On My Mind” doesn’t exactly end things on a cheery note, it’s a heartfelt performance by Mr. Murphy and lovely in its way.

So, I’d give the Moondoggies points for some finely-crafted tunes, featuring great vocal work and some solid playing.

Maybe there’ll be a little sunshine in Moondoggie world next time out.

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