Album Review: Afternoon Moon

Jordan & Josh @ Putnam

Growing up in central Illinois I’ve run across a lot of bands that call the space between Chicago and St. Louis home. Afternoon Moon is one of those bands. They are a 4-piece band out of Ottawa, IL made up of Josh on guitar, Jordan on keys and synth, Justin on drums, and recently added Louie on bass. They have played nearly 80 shows throughout the state in the last 12 months, along with making their first trek westward to Colorado in September of 2011. With their debut album out on CDBaby for $5, and hundreds of requests for them on the Summer Camp Facebook page. 2012 looks to be an exciting year for the band.

‘Haystack’ kicks the album off with an immediately danceable groove that displays the bands ability to not only jump straight into the jams, but also their skill in transitioning sounds throughout a piece. The track lyrically challenges the listener to “Meet me on the dance floor” which is the perfect place to be for a song of this magnitude. When it comes to jam bands, a term which I use loosely, it often becomes a problem to produce a record, because right off the bat you have to decide where the jam gets highlighted and where it becomes too much. Afternoon Moon faces this challenge head on a respectfully showcases their skill, while not running away with the song.

Josh at Putnam Co. Music & Arts Fair

Next we have the slower paced “Noisy Spirit” into “Ship Captain Crew” which both highlight the bands unmistakable vocals and capture small glimpses of the bands funky side. The vocals throughout the album are gritty, but also heartfelt as if speaking out of love and passion. The guitar solo at the end of “Ship Captain Crew” accelerates the beat and leads perfectly into “Something Downtown”. This is the track that immediately calls my attention to a influence from jam legends, The Grateful Dead. Smooth guitar licks from Josh are reminiscent of the late Jerry Garcia. This influence is spotted throughout the track and all the way into the next track, “Can’t Sleep a Wink”, where the same influence is noticeable in the lyrics, also from Josh. Again the lyrics of this tune are heartfelt and powerful while remaining true to the bands organic sound which is far from the auto-tune sounds on major recording labels of today.

With three tracks left to the album it’s already become evident how much work was put into this record. Thus far everything has been balanced. The songs lend themselves to each other and give a smooth and steady ride to the listener. This is still true after getting into “Ghost Dance” and continues to stay true throughout the album as a whole. The solo’s in “Ghost Dance” come mostly from Josh’s guitar, but also give a small glimpse of Jordan on the keys. This is a roll reversal from the live performances I’ve seen from Afternoon Moon, but doesn’t hold true for long because the next song “One with Nature” changes it all up.The beginning of “One with Nature” is where we finally get to hear the amazing talent of Jordan on keys and synth. It’s one of my favorite parts of the live performance and I love hearing it come out on the record. Short lived but purposefully positioned in the track. The tail end of the track picks up into high gear with another very danceable groove and then trails off the peak into the final track.

Photo by VPD Photography

“Guide Me” wraps the album up perfectly, with slow grooves that leave me feeling complete with my experience. It isn’t in your face, but also isn’t dull. The lyrics again stick out as being peaceful and happy. The guitar and keys in the middle of the track make me close my eyes for some reflection of the album. Before I walk away I’ve got to reitterate how well this album is put together. The hills and valleys of energy are something that has been crafted into a work of art. It’s one of those albums that plays from beginning to end so well that it’s almost a shame to listen to just a single track.

For the first album from Afternoon Moon, they have certainly achieved something big. If you haven’t made it to see these guys out at a live show, I highly suggest you do that. Perhaps you’ll even have a chance to catch them this year at Summer Camp.

You can find more Afternoon Moon on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

 

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  • Unbiased

    slightly interesting music, but unrelentingly prosaic and idiosyncratically whimsical to the point you want to crawl out of your skin. It’s like a shot of something really intense, you need a chaser between, not a whole set of this.