I think it is pretty much common knowledge that there has been an explosion of heavy rock/blues duos after the popularity of The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Does that mean that duos should be forbidden from playing music? In most cases I would say no unless you are completely biting off another band's style. Heavy Moan is one of those bands with two members who play blues rock in that vein but at least they are offering some variation here and there. Michael Tanner and Chris Leutbecher were working at an audio-visual company when they discovered their shared interest and formed the band in 2014. On their recent release Blues, Beats, Solos they explore some of the sonic possibilities of drums and guitar. The album does have some vocals here and there but it’s sparse and doesn't feel like an integral part of the music.
The album was DIY effort in regards to production and isn’t too shabby. The guitars and drums sounded decent but lacked a little grit. A little more saturation or distortion on drums would have helped. Nonetheless the songs are still enjoyable.
They open with “Scrumptious” which is more or less a straight up blues rock jam session. The duo gets loose with traditional scales. As far as the vocals go they are used almost used as another instrument. There is no hook with catchy vocal melodies that you will be singing in the shower. I was impressed by the second track “Heavy Moan.” It’s a strictly instrumental track but also one of the most original songs on the album. They find a hypnotic groove on this song, which I could see being used in transition within a movie.
“Hard Rain On My Window” was an instrumental song that was begging for vocals. They could have easily put some in on this track, which would have helped out. “Those Things” sounds a little bit too much like The White Stripes from the similar Jack White fills and even the vocal style during the verse.
Luckily the band shows a little more originality with “I Heard a Rumble.” I enjoyed the song but there weren’t enough changes to keep my attention for the three-plus-minutes. A change in the beat and bass line would have benefited the song. The band closes strong with “Got Me Runnin'” and “When You See Me.”
If I could one piece of advice to the band it would be to not get too stuck on a riff. Once the duo finds a decent groove they don’t know when to give it up. They beat it into the ground until the song feels like a mantra. Overall, Heavy Moan have some talent but if they are serious about getting to a competitive level with demi-gods like The White Stripes and The Black Keys they are going to have to continue to practice and create a style they can call their own.
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