The Moondoggies Don’t Be A Stranger

[Hardly Art; 2008]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Jook joint highway rock
Others: The Band, Neil Young, The Grateful Dead


The Moondoggies, a Seattle quartet led by singer Kevin Murphy, are treading American territory. There they are, teetering toward Vancouver, but their sound looks South, much like The Band of yesteryear. With a sound that's reminiscent, The Moondoggies nod their heads against the windowpane — groggy, soggy stupor rock. They strive to be primitive. They howl out ringers and rough-and-tumble tunes. They stagger forth. A bumptious bunch singing the “Bogachiel Rain Blues.”

Armed with blues and Jesus, they talk of soul, souls, Lords, and long times coming. They feel trepidation, paying homage to an Alan Freed generation who ducked for cover from cataclysm. That being the case, “Jesus On the Mainline” is cranked out as a gin-soaked spiritual — the only way to have it. The Moondoggies moon-dance, with Van-the-Man moves and mysticism.

For their generous servings, there’s only so much to savor. American mythology is great and all, but purity is about as precious as the petty thief’s plan book (or the teacher’s). The Moondoggies are too much Moondog Matinee, all bubble letters with thin neon ribbons running through them. Too fervent an effort to balance astrology and adolescence. The album is Don’t Be A Stranger (—s Almanac). Not enough of Farmer or Poor Richard. Not enough sweat and gunpowder. They are intent on a tent shakeout, but no one’s pitching it.

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