We found ourselves tucked into a corner of The Crane Lane Theatre a few weeks back, during the decades festival in Cork, surrounded by girls in full skirts and pop socks, and boys wearing braces and snazzy hats. The decade celebrated was the 1950s, the jinks were high and the music was pure shoulder-shimmying compulsion, and it occurred to me, somewhere between my seventh bourbon and the floor, that music isn’t something that has to keep swelling towards the future to be fresh and fun. The sound was smokey, rockabilly and Americana, and my compadres were thrilled as canaries. MOAR ROCK N’ ROLL, they bellowed, as the doors were closing. And just in time, Moo rode into town.
Moo are three lads with impressive musical pedigrees and no fear of hard work; as well as touring regularly, they have residencies in The Village on Wexford St, The Globe on Georges St and The Mezz in Temple Bar. They deal out equal measures of Rock N’ Roll and Western, and their debut album, Wanted, is released tomorrow.
Wanted is very much an album of two halves; Moo taking on established rock n’ roll anthems and belting them out with beans and chutzpah, and Moo covering conventional pop songs and putting a Western slant on them. They succeed beautifully with the former, but aren’t as convincing when reimagining pop hits. Opener Ready Or Not (which most readers will recognise as a Fugees hook; the original is by The Delfonics) is the weakest track on the album, and its Western slant comes across as rather gimmicky, a bit too close to the Blues Brothers taken aback in a hick bar. Likewise, Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy and The Zutons’ Valerie are too samey; no doubt they would be contagious in a live setting, but on a solo, iPod session, they seem little more than novelties.
Blips in the mood, then, but not insurmountable blips. Where Moo excel is in the kind of fare you’d presume inevitable for a band of their proclivities. The second track on Wanted, a cover of Johnny Cash’s Get Rhythm, is super. Less predictably, they have a fantastic take on the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop and Radiohead’s Lucky, which closes the album on a tough, atmospheric peak, hinting at greater possibilities for the lads. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that the best of the lot is 2000 Horses, the band’soriginal song, unapologetic rock and roll that lords it over everything else on the album.
It might seem handy to label Moo as a novelty covers act, good for giving rootin’, tootin’ singalongs to countried-up pop staples. Though the band cite Hayseed Dixie and Novelle Vague as inspirations, 2000 Horses proves that they have a few more strings to their bow than just reimagining classics. I’ll be sure to be at the Cork gig at the end of the month; this is music you have to listen to with a posse.
Wanted is released tomorrow (CD and iTunes), 17th September, in The Mercantile on Dame St, and Moo then head off on a nationwide tour to promote it. Catch them at the following venues:
SEPT 16th – Tower Records Dublin
SEPT 17th – The Mercantile Dublin
SEPT 23rd – Mason’s Derry
SEPT 29th – Crane Lane Cork
OCT 7th – The Globe Dublin
OCT 8th – Muddy Mahers Galway