PLAYING DETROIT: Moonwalks “Lunar Phases”

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Few bands are as aptly named as psychedelic Detroit four piece, Moonwalks, whose upcoming release Lunar Phases could act as a wild, yet tailored, road map to uninhabited galaxies and black holes, alike. The band’s first LP, scheduled to release via cassette tape and digital download later this month (MANIMAL Vinyl) is as warm as it is cooly intergalactic and is as 1960’s retro as it is refreshingly modern. Collectively, Jake Dean (guitars/vocals) Kate Gutwald (bass), Kerrigan Pearce (drums) and Tyler Grates (guitar) admit to being moved by the production of old Lee Hazlewood records, which makes sense, considering Lunar Phases has an undeniably sultry, Western-shootout vibe. (If the shootout was between aliens and cowboys, directed by a 90’s Tarantino respectfully.) “We’re becoming more collaborative as a four piece,” says Grates. “When making music, it’s important for me not to consider any influences I have at the time. Anything can sound like everything. However, it’s a little different in the recording process. We all have similar taste but different ideas, so we’re constantly coming up with different landscapes of sound.” More than Brian Jonestown Massacre-esque jam rock moments or sedated Jeffry Lee Pierce vocals, Moonwalks’ sound is the figurative dusting off of something once lost. Like water on Mars, Lunar Phases taps into what you thought you knew, but with an exploratory freshness best suited for lovers of reverb, distortion, and unexpectedly emotive cosmic collisions of past and present.

What is most surprising of their debut LP is the seamless cohesion not only between tracks, but in Moonwalks’ shared cadence, notably in their confidence in letting each instrument/effect have space to swell, breathe, and explode. This is glaringly apparent on vocal-less track “Cream Cheese Ashtray,” a demanding instrumental that gives the aural illusion of bending time; warped but never “off,” askew but never elementary nor hesitant. Delay heavy track, “Painted Lady” (one of two songs named after beloved Detroit bar/venues) is reminiscent of early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club minus the cliche hook/verse progression, artfully distorting your notion of what comes next; another example of Moonwalks’ ability to give new life to the already familiar.

Lunar Phases is, for the lack of a better word, mature. The album, a richly dynamic and attentive mosaic just under thirty minutes long, manages to achieve the robust fluidity that most bands don’t find until their second or third release (if at all). With extensive touring planned for the coming year and by the sounds of it, more studio time, too, Moonwalks exudes a completeness but with ample room to morph, grow, and reimagine. “I think were becoming tighter as a band,” Grates explains. “We’re getting more comfortable with playing shows and touring around the country. I think if the four of us weren’t in a band together, we’d still be hanging out all the time.”

While we await the release of Lunar Phases, satisfy your hunger by checking out Moonwalks’ 2014 EP:

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