The Moondoggies Break Out With That Northwest Sound
The Moondoggies are back with their third full length album Adiós, I’m A Ghost! Four friends from Everett, Washington– twenty-five miles north of Seattle at the terminus of Route 2– formed the band five years ago. And this is a Northwest kind of record; it’s full of constant shifts from light to dark, from serious to tongue-in-cheek, from ’60s pop-rock to swamp rock. This album constantly changes moods, just like the weather on Puget Sound.
Echoes of Grateful Dead grooves, My Morning Jacket rockers, Fleet Foxes vocal harmonies and Wilco-esque deconstructions swirl through this record. And despite those obvious influences, the compositions combine with the Moondoggies’ own thoughtfully simple songs to make this record quintessentially something different, something identifiably northwestern.
The album opens with baroque melancholical moans to underline the title– these guys are ghosts. The second track, “Red Eye,” is a short, simple rocker, set up to successfully preview the rest of the album. Next, “Annie Turn Out the Lights” is a lamentable Doors-like shuffle with a solid hook. “Midnight Owl” takes us into a swamp boogie that seems to set the Ghost free. Its melodic pop structure coupled with a building, jam band instrumental complement the eclecticism of Adiós.
“Pride” brings in the sound that differentiates The Moondoggies from genre-matching. Its finger-picking guitar, strolling mandolins and return to ghostly backup vocals make this track an unexpected gem. “Stop Signs” continues their roots rock feel and asks what we do when we “put this foolishness behind.” “One More Chance” signals the end of “the end” with another driving, rocking ’60s-style pop song asking for a shot at some lover long gone. The album closes with “Back to the Beginning” and “Don’t Ask Why,” tensely lamenting the regrets of the past, then rocking out to forget those demons and to “let the sun shine.”
This album deserves attention. When the Moondoggies are gone and one looks back at their career, this may be viewed as their “breakout album,” if such a thing still exists in today’s fragmented music business. Perhaps their ghosts will notice.