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Thread: Moon Letters - retro/classic prog from Seattle

  1. #1
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    Moon Letters - retro/classic prog from Seattle

    Anybody else here heard this band?

    They played SeaProg last weekend, and its members have played the same festival before as members of other bands. Their music is unabashedly Seventies-oriented stuff, and in some ways, sounds like various US second-wave prog from '74 or so - Cathedral, Starcastle, Mirthrandir, and the like. But not exactly: When it came to the actual songs inside their proggy elaborations, many second-wave bands of the time fell back on meat-and-potatoes Midwest hard rock or imitation Beatles. Moon Letters don't, though; the pop songs inside their minor epics and extended suites sound more like pop songs of the Seventies, more like Elton John or Wings or the Moody Blues than REO Speedwagon. This gets an odd effect - it sounds like classic-era prog, yet you can't really point to anybody it sounds like because the combination is different.* It's really decent and well-crafted music, within the limitation of sounding like a lot of other music, and they play it well.

    Their presentation is also very 1974 - the keyboardist wears a cape (which probably started out as a tablecloth), the lead guitarist dresses like a metalhead of the period, and the singer wears a costume and face paint. He also performs theatrics, which involved waving a wooden prop sword about (and eventually getting knighted with it), wearing a black robe and pounding on a floor-tom set up in the aisle with a creepy blue spotlight shining through the drumhead onto his face, and other stuff. It was exactly the sort of thing you might have seen in 1974 (done by some local prog band whose name is lost in the mists of time, and who have long since gone on to be accountants and auto mechanics), and they do it absolutely deadpan.

    Anyway, I think they should play more festivals than just this one. They might not fit into every line-up, but the ROSFest crowd could really enjoy a relatively young act who so wholeheartedly hearken back to the old days. And there are probably other festivals that they'd go over well at, too.

    Here's their album: https://moonletters.bandcamp.com/

    Haven't been able to find any live videos, though.

    - JH

    *(The prog bands of the period tended to ignore the pop bands - pop music, after all, was what they were trying to go beyond. The reverse, though was not true - many pop bands would have one or two proggy tracks per album because people liked that stuff on an album, and because it let the band blow off steam and be creative. So if you could imagine a band whose material was reminiscent of Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, or Wings' "Live and let Die", or Sweet's "Love is like Oxygen", you might have some kind of box Moon Letters would fit in.)

  2. #2
    Member Joe F.'s Avatar
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    I love Moon Letters. And I agree with you, John. These guys would be a fit for Rosfest.

  3. #3
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Ordered, thx.

  4. #4
    Is it an art or performance project or is this the way they compose songs?

    For example, Dexy's Midnight Runners had a completely different sound on each album because they were simply the brainchild of Kevin Rowland who wanted to do a North Soul album, then a Celtic sounding album, and then an 80s pop album.
    No matter what anyone says, you are the decider of how you will listen to music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Splicer View Post
    Is it an art or performance project or is this the way they compose songs?
    This is the kind of music they do. The singer (Michael Trew) writes a lot of the material as more basic songs, then brings it in to the band and they elaborate upon it. But I've heard him in other bands and this is the way he writes. I don't think it's an art project or a concept to any extent more than that they love this kind of music and want to play some of their own.

    As to the subject matter of their album (something to do with the Arthurian legend, I gather), and their live presentation, I'm not sure. They have to realize that those slightly awkward theatrics are part of the stereotype of a prog band, but they do it with completely straight faces, and zero ironic self-aware campiness. Perhaps they see Peter Gabriel's stage performances as a part of the musical tradition they're working within, and something to emulate every bit as much as Fripp's guitar lines, Banks's keyboard voicings, Squire's bass tone and parts, and Collins's or Bruford's drum fills.
    Last edited by Baribrotzer; 06-17-2019 at 12:50 PM.

  6. #6
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by polmico View Post
    Upcoming shows
    19
    AUG
    Live at Drunky Two Shoe BBQ with Contraband Countryband and Wild Wild Mexico
    Friday, August 19, 2022
    8:00pm-11:00pm
    9655 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106, USA
    source: https://www.moonletters.com/calendar

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by interbellum View Post
    Drunky Two Shoe BBQ
    What a wonderful name for a BBQ joint!
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  9. #9
    Member LASERCD's Avatar
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    Discs just arrived. Going up on the site on Monday.

  10. #10
    I like Until They Feel the Sun.

    It's self-consciously and successfully "retro" in a manner of keeping with other recent (1995-2020) terms of interpreting a set style. Probably a flop or two below wellwishers such as Cirrus Bay or Thieves' Kitchen, but definitely in that water and appeal. This is obviously where authenticity parts from genuinity, in that these acts seek to explore on what's already done as opposed to mimic gesture.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #11
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    I'm getting a rather strong Mars Hollow, District 97 vibe. And I mean that in a favorable way.

  12. #12
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polmico View Post
    What a wonderful name for a BBQ joint!
    There's quite a few BBQ joints up here now but many of them are a little too boutiquey and way over-priced. I wonder if it's one of those BBQ restaurants that paid through the nose for artificially fatigued corrugated tin siding... I joked for a long time that going to fill a semi-trailer full of pine needles, drive to the east coast where stores sell them to people for flower bed coverage, then buy up a bunch of dilapidated, rusty corrugated tin siding from the countryside for cheap, drive it back to Seattle and make a mint selling it as "the genuine article"...
    I digress

  13. #13
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polmico View Post
    What a wonderful name for a BBQ joint!
    If people aren't swinging from the chandeliers, I'd be disappointed.

  14. #14
    Member Joe F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by interbellum View Post
    Upcoming shows
    19
    AUG
    Live at Drunky Two Shoe BBQ with Contraband Countryband and Wild Wild Mexico
    Friday, August 19, 2022
    8:00pm-11:00pm
    9655 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106, USA
    source: https://www.moonletters.com/calendar
    I'll be there!

    The new album is really good. I've had it for a week.

  15. #15
    Thanks for sharing some about the band. I was reading here, and wanted to note that all of the Moon Letters compose the songs. The times when I bring in music, it does get reimagined and worked by the other fellas.

  16. #16
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I just listened to the new album (my first) on Spotify, and it’s darn good. To my ears, much of it sounded like a less frantic Thank You, Scientist.
    Last edited by JKL2000; 08-19-2022 at 10:11 PM.
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  17. #17
    Just purchased both Thanks!

  18. #18
    I hadn't heard of these guys until the other day I saw someone post about the new album on Facebook. I sampled it, and wound up ordering both CDs from Bandcamp. Looking forward to getting them and delving in further. Good heads up for others like me who had previously missed the boat!

    Bill

  19. #19
    There is a lot to like on this new album. Still digesting.
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splicer View Post
    Is it an art or performance project or is this the way they compose songs?

    For example, Dexy's Midnight Runners had a completely different sound on each album because they were simply the brainchild of Kevin Rowland who wanted to do a North Soul album, then a Celtic sounding album, and then an 80s pop album.
    I never knew that about Dexy's! I'll have to read more about them.

    And I live near Seattle and will definitely add Moon Knight to my Bandcamp shopping list and check them out if I hear of a show of theirs.

  21. #21
    Member Joe F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBES View Post
    I never knew that about Dexy's! I'll have to read more about them.

    And I live near Seattle and will definitely add Moon Knight to my Bandcamp shopping list and check them out if I hear of a show of theirs.
    Moon Letters.

    They played last night in White Center. It was a great show. Hopefully another gig in October.

  22. #22
    Member Garyhead's Avatar
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    just ordered on Bandcamp......always enjoy me some Moon Letters!
    The Ice Cream Lady Wet her drawers........To see you in the Passion Playyyy eeee - I. Anderson

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    I was expecting to be kinda meh, but it made my nips stiffen - Jerjo

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  23. #23
    Never heard of them till now.

    Currently enjoying both albums.

  24. #24
    Member Garyhead's Avatar
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    My copy just arrived..............black smears on package cover ALL digipak plastic shattered! CD looks ok.....just installed in iTunes...............into the home stereo next. If playable.....will just move on. Funny....a 45 mile trip from source to home....and it couldn't avoid a tire.
    The Ice Cream Lady Wet her drawers........To see you in the Passion Playyyy eeee - I. Anderson

    "It's kind of like deciding not to date a beautiful blonde anymore because she farted." - Top Cat

    I was expecting to be kinda meh, but it made my nips stiffen - Jerjo

    (Zamran) "that fucking thing man . . . it sits there on my wall like a broken clock " - Helix

    Social Media is the "Toilet" of the Internet - Lady Gaga

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