Cincinnati, OH-based trio New Moons, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Curtis Dressman, is back with The Hole. The eight-cut album explores themes that bother Dressman (e.g. corporate greed, not tipping your waitstaff), backed by rock tracks that combine new wave, indie, alternative and punk elements.
For this record, Curtis Dressman–who also plays the keyboards–is joined by Tom Dressman (bass/backing vocals) and Zach Howard (drums). Curtis shares production credits with engineer, mixer and masterer Justin Newton. The production deserves praise throughout for its light touch: there are extra bits added, but they’re added at good spots. The added layers support the songs and give an emotional push where appropriate; then they fade back away, and let the band get back to business. It’s not production for production’s sake, but production for the song’s sake, and it is much appreciated.
The band itself is rock-solid. Curtis Dresssman’s guitar work shines in both rhythm and lead roles; as a lead player, he is tasteful and melodic, selecting notes well and avoiding guitar-hero antics. “Wash Me Away” is a great example of this. Tom Dressman’s bass work is melodic and interesting throughout. He gets some great tones, too –- check out ”Sirens” and “Barely Alive” — and isn’t afraid to turn up the distortion as the album moves along (“Energy”, “Reflux”). Howard’s drums lock in, and his playing is inventive and textured at appropriate moments. This all comes together on the solo section of “Nightmare.” It’s a treat with all band members playing interesting parts that contribute to a greater whole.
Dressman’s lyrics are well-written, and offer a dim view of modern working life. The narrator in “Customer Service” tells it from the staff’s side. “Barely Alive” takes on daily corporate life, and it’s underlined by “Reflux:” “Nothing ever changes / And every day is the same / I sit alone in a screen-lit room / Smoothing out my brain.” Ouch.
The band takes on a few different rock styles over the eight tracks. The first four mash up indie, pop and new wave elements, with Tom Dressman’s bass adding some grit underneath. “Energy” unleashes a bit of chaos before emerging as an alt-rock tune. The instrumental “The Hole” — this listener’s favorite — is something that we might have gotten if early-years Rush and Pink Floyd got together for a session or two. “Reflux” is fun, tuned-down power-chord punk, with modern vocal harmonies and a dash of rock n’ roll piano for extra spice. “Wash Me Away,” the closer, is a slower tune, and a fine update of an ‘80s power ballad. The band can do it all.
New Moons has crafted a fine album with The Hole. They’ve got eight strong songs, with the band (and production) to bring them to life with tasteful musicality. Give them a spin!
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