Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Moon Hooch flies high with a brand-new collection of saxophone-dance music

February 12, 2020

Ask pretty much anyone around today and an agreed-upon thought is that our world is disconnected. This fact has not been lost on Wenzl McGowen, Mike Wilbur, and James Muschler over their last five or six years touring the world. Creating a mood immersed in an energy that feels like something out of this world, Life on Other Planets from Moon Hooch brings a live show into the studio to launch out into the connecting world. 

The band’s backstory remains the same, with classical training cementing foundations in jazz. Spiritual foundations, as well as sustainability and veganism, define their creative process, which was especially relevant in thinking about Life on Other Planets. The eight tracks were recorded in a single take in order to capture a live show experience, not just a record. Pure Moon Hooch—the blend of funk, jazz, EDM, and everything experimental found in between—is nothing short of spectacular. 

I’ve been a serious fan from the first time I danced an entire set at the High Sierra Music Festival after accidentally landing at their stage. Given that first experience, separating this album into specific songs rather than speaking to the flow feels like sacrilege. “Nonphysical” starts as an out of body experience, a warm-up ready for launch. For folks jumping into the stratosphere with Moon Hooch for the first time (perhaps because of the popularity of bands like Too Many Zoos), you can feel secure that these guys in Moon Hooch were the first pilots of the dance-sax/sax-battle plane. “This Is Water” features spoken word and heavy (is that baritone clarinet?) rumblings, like Earth’s birth in all its violent primal beauty.

Sequencing is key with this type of release that hopes to capture a live atmosphere; go to a Moon Hooch show and see why fans dance from the first notes to the last encore. “They’re Already Here” is an excellent marriage of classic forms, combining jazz textures with EDM spoken word, drifting off into a soft whisper of sound. The follow-up “Candlelight” reintroduces the dance party rave, as its vibrations of great times spark the imagination. Feeling like a fixture in live sets, its place on this record seems to fit beautifully with its soaring spaces and spoken word.

Heading out of Life On Other Planets may feel like a rush with “Too Much Hooch” and the final “Solo.” But is it possible to get too much? The interplay of this three-piece saxophone and percussion cacophony launches out of the club to wake up the neighbors and entertain block parties all summer long. Until then, thank you for putting a show in the palm of my hands, Moon Hooch. —Lisa Whealy

2/12 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House 

2/13 – Asheville, NC – Asheville Music Hall 

2/14 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theater 

2/15 – Greensboro, NC – Blind Tiger 

2/16 – Raleigh, NC – Pour House 

2/20 – Virginia Beach, VA – The Bunker Brewhall 

2/21 – Richmond, VA – The Camel 

2/22 – Washington DC – U Street Music Hall

3/11 – Brussels, BE – Atelier 210

3/12 – Massy, Paris, FR – Centre Paul Bailliart

3/13 – Toulouse, FR – Salle Nougaro

3/14 – Agen, FR – Le Florida

3/15 – Bordeaux, FR – Rocher de Parlmer

3/17 – Lille, FR – Le’ Aeronef

3/18 – Metz, FR – Les Trinitaires

3/20 – Chalons-en-Champagne, FR – Le Comete

3/23 – Zurich, SWI – Moods

3/24 – Paris, FR – New Morning

3/26 – Marseille, FR – Le Moulin

3/28 – Corsica, FR – Aghja

4/24 – Prague, CZ – Roxy

4/25 – Prague, CZ – Palac Acropolis

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Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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