Daily or even weekly readers of this blog have likely picked up on a pet peeve of mine. I take issue with the trend amongst bands labeled as “indie” to strive unrealistically for complete originality with their music. These bands appear to shun any relic of the past. All too often this leads to gimmicky distractions that serve to cheapen the art rather than enrich it.
Fellow music blogger Zach Hart indirectly spoke to this problem in his terrific retrospective “Pitchfork at Fifteen: WLFY on Pitchfork” saying,
“I understand that time and tastes change, but good music and the personal experiences that shape individual taste do not. I live by the thought that good music is good music regardless of genre, album cover, band name, or the look of the band.”
My disdain for this failed attempt at a new sound stems from a longtime appreciation for the blues. A genre whose songs are so shared and incestuous that tracing their origin becomes a near impossibility. The strength of a blues performance lies in the artist’s ability to relate emotionally to the material. The authenticity comes from the musician convincing the audience that these same 12 bars are as meaningful now as ever.
Indianapolis’ Blue Moon Revue is an independent rock band. Underappreciated, underfed and unsigned – they qualify in every sense of the word. Their latest release Phases was recorded under the guidance of Alan Johnson at the Static Shack. The album is a satisfying mix of hungry, energetic songwriting and airtight instrumentation that blends into soulful, funked-out rock.
Phases kicks off with the punchy, distorted blues of “Lil Mama.” We featured a video for the song in a post just before the band’s December show at Radio Radio. On the first spin, you’ll be certain you’ve been listening to this track for years. Lead singer Matt Marshall begs unabashedly for the returned phone call of an unresponsive lover, while Dave Sullivan mimics the singer’s desperation on his Les Paul. Good stuff.
“Waiting On a Wire” serves as another of Phases’ more successful tracks. Here, Sullivan bounces along with a stabbing horn line, while bassist Andy Salge takes the reins on vocals. I would place Salge amongst this city’s strongest bass players. In an earlier era, he would have made the ideal session musician. It’s rare to find a band that rotates front men effectively, but Marshall and Salge trade with ease, each bringing a unique voice without destroying the band’s identity.
“Waiting on a Wire”
I am also thrilled by BMR’s decision to bring keyboardist Gary Mielke into the fold on a full-time basis. Pianists often serve as unsung heroes in the classic rock formula. While I may not argue that point here, Mielke’s play adds a texture and depth to BMR’s songs that I look to see expanded in the future, particularly in their live shows. His addition has, to this point, been subtle but effective.
Blue Moon Revue may not be a band at the cusp of conquering the musical landscape. Maybe they don’t have “the look,” but several simple facts remain. These guys are more talented than many acts with larger regional and national followings. They sound like what they are: Midwest gentlemen that were raised on classic rock, funk and blues. Rather than run away from the music that brought them here, they chose instead to embrace it. If that is a crime, then it is a crime worth committing.
Download a copy of Phases on iTunes. Indy folks, don’t miss BMR’s 2nd Annual Mardi Gras Party, featuring a few covers of the Crescent City’s finest at Locals Only on February 17th. Bloomington residents can check out the new material at Bear’s Place on February 24th. Hard copies of the album are available at a few locations as well. Eat, drink, listen local. Click below for a free stream of Phases:
Written by Rob Peoni
Indianapolis’ Blue Moon Revue released a hot new video for the track “Lil Momma” off their latest release Phases today. The eye candy comes courtesy of local video gurus Monkey Eats Monkey. The band will be playing at Radio Radio tonight for their 5th Annual Holiday Extravaganza. In the past, BMR has filled up venues in the Broad Ripple area for one of the Christmas season’s best parties. This marks the first time the event will be held in Fountain Square.
This year’s holiday show will also serve as an album release party. BMR is sounding as good as ever at the moment. The band has been steadily sharpening their sound at Alan Johnson’s Static Shack Studios. Johnson is a seasoned studio veteran, who is responsible for Bob and Tom’s extensive catalog of albums. On top of recording and mixing Phases, Johnson has had BMR rehearsing into the wee hours for weeks. The hard work and long rehearsals should make for a terrific show at Radio Radio tonight. Cover for the event is $6, or $3 with a canned food donation for Gleaners Food Bank. Fellow Indy natives Genius Johnson will be on hand to lend support. Come out and support great local music tonight, and witness a band that is coming into their own.
Written by Rob Peoni
An exciting new release hit the Indianapolis music scene last month in the form of Andy Salge’s solo debut Shuffle. The album marks the first official release from Nick Vote’s Great Tasting Studios. Vote doubled as studio instrumentalist for many of Shuffle’s seven tracks. Salge’s effort marks a significant change of course from his work as bassist with Blue Moon Revue (who will drop its own release, produced by Alan Johnson of Static Shack Studios, sometime this summer).
Many of the album’s melodies are built around synth-heavy beats and heavy bass tracks. This marks a first for Salge as the synthesizer is an instrument that rarely sees the light of day on his BMR work. Salge’s strong songwriting is the one carry over from both projects. He keeps the structures simple here, shorter songs laden with addictive hooks—lyrically and instrumentally.
Any of you readers have shitty jobs? Next time you’re rolling out of work at 5 o’clock, roll down your windows, spark a cigarette, turn your speakers up and blast “Call it a Day.” Tell me this track is not as satisfying as that first beer on the couch after a long day. Fair waning, road rage may shortly ensue—but you will enjoy it.
“It’s On” is an addictive track that will remain engrained in your psyche for weeks on end. “Find a Way” falls in line as another catchy, danceable track. The rest of the album can be a little scatter-brained; Shuffle proves an apt title as the songs bounce through varying themes and musical styles. I tend to think of this as a success rather than a failure.
Shuffle, more than anything else, should be viewed as an experiment for Salge. This was not a calculated, year-in-the-making release. That will come in the form of BMR’s release this summer. However, I am excited that he has opened the door to new possibilities as a musician. As previously stated, the songwriting here is solid and that ain’t going to change. It will be interesting to see what shape that writing takes on as Salge grows more comfortable behind the keyboard and synthesizer.
Other good tunes from Shuffle: “Song for Aaron” & “I Suppose”
Roll up to Salge’s new smoke-infused single: “Treat Yourself”
Stream Andy Salge’s new album Shuffle: