Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Moonlight Bride Is An Indie Artist Pick

There are dozens of towns and cities that people immediately associate with the hotbed of emerging music. And Chattanooga, Tennessee, probably isn't one of them. Not today, but maybe someday.

There is an unforgettably striking noise-pop band with a rough edge emerging out of this quiet arts community. And while Moonlight Bride came together haphazardly about five years ago, no one would ever guess it based on their remarkable self-produced 5-track EP entitled Twin Lakes.

"There are tons of differences between Twin Lakes and Myths, but the one that sticks out the most is the lack of synthesizers," says frontman Justin Giles (vocals, guitar, keys). "This is very much a guitar record, which was different for me. It was fun to make and took me out of my element a little."

Twin Lakes by Moonlight Bride soothes and shudders at once.

The EP starts out with a haunting ambiance created by the down tempo track Diego. Giles says the original piece was even slower until he started playing it faster for the band. Then, when the band joined in, they carved out the middle ground and created an addictive balance that is only occasionally disrupted with huge, unwavering distorts.

The moodiness of the memories tucked inside Diego gets traded up for what the band called the sunniest song on their 5-pack. But as happy-go-lucky as Lemonade sounds, it's about wanting to be anywhere except where you are, and wasting the summer away while you dream about it. It's my favorite track on the album, and feels longer than its just under 3-minute play time.

Versinthe breaks up the EP with guitar distortion that makes up the majority of it until Giles drops in a few lines of poetic lyrics, about something he never told someone. Drug Crimes is about addiction, but not just drugs. It could be anything; whatever anyone might become obsessive about.

"It's my personal favorite. It's sort of about the confusion of a failing mental state," says Giles. "But mostly, I just want people to enjoy our songs the way I enjoy other artists' work. I just like to make music I like to make. For other bands, I say don't complicate it or over think anything."

That is also one of the reasons why Moonlight Bride sounds so natural. They don't force anything. Most of the time, Giles is the only person to bring in completed material and then other members of the band just join in and play through until it sounds right. Lemonade worked out much like that, except it originally started with a bass line from Dave Maki. Then Giles started singing, Matt Livingston laid down a beat, and Justin Grasham dropped in his guitar. Uncluttered and original.

All in all, it's not all that different from how they came together. Giles met Livingston at a punk rock recording studio. Grasham was brought in by Tyke Calfee, one of the original members who met Giles after noticing his Bowie backpack patch at a party. And Maki helped mix the band's first two EPs and produced the last album.

The teaser, mostly consisting of infectious drum beats before it breaks into a meanadering epic, highlights the opening of the last track. And The Death Ship Has A New Captain is a 6-minute plus song that carries their rawest alternative rock sound forward, with all the restlessness you might expect as they sing about us going down together. A brilliant piece of work, one not to miss live.

"I like the fact that no one can say 'Oh, they sound like a shittier version of [fill in the blank],'" says Giles. "When it comes it to making an album, it's just a group of creative people getting together to make the best product they can."

They do exactly that with Twin Lakes. The album, mixed by John Goodmanson (Death Cab For Cutie), was mostly recorded live, with only the acoustic guitar and vocal overdubbed. Giles said Goodmanson is obviously talented, saying he had never heard their music sound quite like that before.

"I definitely want to add how thankful we [Moonlight Bride] are for everyone who has worked with us for free or next to nothing because they believe in this project," he said. "That means more to us than you'll ever know."

Twin Lakes By Moonlight Bride Breaks 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Sometimes it's anybody's guess why some bands aren't signed, even if they have talked to several labels. But then again, it doesn't really matter so much as long as Moonlight Bride keeps making the music they want. And they will be doing it plenty this year. The band has a remix EP in the works, a new EP almost complete, and a full-length album ahead that is half written.

All of it is being supported by a Northeast to Midwest tour, including a return to SXSW. You can pick up Twin Lakes by Moonlight Bride at iTunes or download Twin Lakes from Amazon. The physical EP sold out and is already being restocked for their site shop. Keep up with their tour on Facebook.
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