Advanced Copy: The Moondoggies

Jeff Yerger

Normally when one thinks of the Seattle music scene, grunge, long hair and flannel shirts come to mind. 

The Moondoggies are a bit of an anomaly when it comes to the Seattle stereotype. Though they did start out with garage rock roots, these guys have come a long way since then, creating a surprisingly polished, roots-rock sound. 

“Tidelands,” the band’s second full-length album, is full of country-tinged melodies and rich four-part vocal harmonies led by singer Kevin Murphy’s full-throated voice. 

There’s a nice blend of plugged-in rockers (“It’s a Shame, It’s a Pity”) and unplugged ballads (“Empress of the North”) here to keep any fan of Blitzen Trapper or Fleet Foxes happy, yet the Moondoggies might’ve bit off more than they could chew on this album. 

Too many times do these songs leave the listener looking for the clock, wondering when the song will finish. It’s disappointing, because there’s a lot of potential here, but they don’t know when to quit while they’re ahead. 

“What Took So Long” has a nice, doo-wop swing to it, but it loses its charm by dragging out a bit too long. It’s similar to when a band extends its most popular song at a concert: You like the song, but after a while you just want to hear what’s next. 

“We All Can’t Be Blessed” is another one of those songs that starts off strongly, but bores you way before the song ends.

On the flip side, “Tidelands” has a lot of good moments, and they come when the music is toned down to the bare minimum. 

On the last track, “A Lot of People on My Mind,” Murphy’s vocals resonate strongly and emotionally over a gentle acoustic riff. “Lead Me On” is a bit of a sidetrack from the album’s overall sound, but the song’s country western vibe makes it one of the best songs on the album. 

For a quartet straight out of Seattle, the fiddles and chugging snare drums don’t sound cheesy but rather natural. 

All of the songs on “Tidelands” were recorded live in the studio, which is always good if you want to produce genuine-sounding music. 

The Moondoggies have a growing reputation for being a great live band, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t exactly good for the album itself. They still have a lot to learn about how to bring that charm they have on stage into the studio. 

“Tidelands” isn’t a perfect album, but it isn’t totally bad either. All-in-all, it’s an enjoyable listen, but the Moondoggies are missing that one album that will change them from being “that band you’ve got to see” to “that band you’ve got to hear.”