Dirt Moon started out as a solo project but turned into a full-fledged band. The four members which include Aaron Church (vocals/guitar), Adam Johnson (drums), Jeff Mokry (bass) and Graham Terry (guitar/vocals) took some time during 2015 to record and release When We Were Animals.
I have to admit that when I heard the first song I thought I knew what I was in store for me for the rest of the EP. While there aren’t any huge surprises from this rock/alternative band there were some minor ones, which I was pleasantly impressed by. More on this later.
They kick things off with “Speechless” and it initially starts with a couple of guitars and vocals. The first transition adds some energy with drums. I thought the lead guitar part around this time was extremely melodic and easy on the ears. The chorus rocks but is rather predictable and familiar sounding.
It wasn’t till the second track “Palinopsia/Wretched Tune” where I was really impressed. Towards the beginning of the song the vocals reminded me of Maynard James Keenan. The guitar riffs are great and I thought the modulations effects were used tastefully. It isn't until later in the song that the band rocks pretty hard but then they unexpectedly go into a haunting, ambient section. It was a great move and showed that the band was willing to think outside of the box and get experimental.
The ambient ending fades into “I Want Your Blood.” I especially enjoyed the beginning, which again reminded me of Tool again. The band explodes into the chorus but not for long. Towards the end of the song the band finds another inspired sections that relies on subtlety and nuance. They close with “Different Faces” which has a distinct vibe that I almost want to compare to Modest Mouse. There are some guitar parts that are very creative; the same goes for the drums.
Dirt Moon is at their strongest when they veer away from distortion-filled power chord climaxes. The moments that got my attention were the ones that relied on details and nuances. There were a good amount of those moments but the band at times went too fast into predictable, loud choruses when there could have been other possible ways to get there. Exploring the dynamics between loud and soft and how to achieve both without following tropes takes a lot of time and a good amount of bands never get there. Dirt Moon is almost there but not quite yet. If they keep on this trajectory I think they will arrive soon.
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