Dylan Rockwell (vocals/guitar) and Pat Gunning (drums/percussion) form the core of Moozy, their Washington D.C. based project. Starting in January 2020, the partners jammed on Rockwell’s songs for a couple months, then workshopped at several open mic performances. Gunning then recorded drums to rough demos, “creating a canvas for the rest of the tune.” After tracking vocals and guitar, the files were sent to Nick Fliakas (bass) and Donovan Duvall (keys/synth) for the final touches. Rockwell mixed the EP in his Pro Tools home studio using an Antelope Audio Orion Studio Interface, though few studio gear emulations were used. The final tracks were mastered by Ben Soldate.
As far as his songwriting, Rockwell explains: “The goal was just to be creative and sincere yet maintain a degree of accessibility. Our influences are stuff along the lines of Wilco, Bonnie Prince Billy, Mark Kozelek, Radiohead, etc. although I know the music we make doesn't exactly sound like that.”
During the pandemic I have been constantly amazed at the high quality of music that’s been created among players at great remove, and Moozy is no exception. Learning how these songs came together, I was surprised at just how polished and even commercial they sound. Rockwell has a sweet higher-pitched voice that lends itself to harmony overdubs, and he lets his reverb-bathed vocals wander freely across his songs.
“Don’t U Need Somebody” has the swagger and confidence of a Prince tune. The lyrics unfold as variations on the words of the title against a lush background of guitars and keys with Rockwell sticking to falsetto throughout. What sounds like a backward-recorded guitar solo ends the tune, quite alien and very cool. (Photojournalists Eric Thayer and Alex Wroblewski shot a music video for this song that can be found on Facebook, though it’s basically just the two guys playing outside.)
“Tru Luv” sounds more traditionally alternative. Rockwell’s lead vocal moves down to mid-range but he again overdubs a downy bed of extended harmonies. The chorus guitars are interesting with some blue notes purposely added to the main chords, followed by a classic hard rock solo. Production-wise this track fills every last inch of sonic space, as did the opening song.
“Calico” for me sounds very much like a Fleet Foxes song, especially in the wall of vocals. Again, Rockwell and company nail every beat and note as if they were polished jewels with yet another splendid guitar solo to bring the set to a close.
My only frustration with this release is its extreme brevity, but the good news is that the group is working on a ten-song album, and I’m very interested to see what kinds of new sounds they come up with.
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