Closing out 2016 with a free download of their EP Joshua Tree, the cacophony of sound that is Moon Hooch throws down a bold statement: Just dance. The EP is a simple thank you to fans for a widely successful year that included sell-out shows across Europe and the United States, along with critical acclaim for Red Sky.
“We rented a house and set up a little studio in the Mojave desert just outside of Joshua Tree National Park,” explains Wenzl McGowen. “We got together in the same room with our instruments and said, ‘Let’s just hit it’ and started playing whatever came to our minds. Somehow this process created eight songs. Don’t ask us where they came from, but we certainly enjoyed bringing them to this planet.”
Drenched in the surreal quality of the Joshua Tree environment, this EP opens with “Sandstorm,” hitting that desert rave on fire. Overarching melodies from the swirling horns repeat with a precision that is cohesive in its chaos, like desert sands–each minute but necessary. “Dancing Dwarf” brings it in a notch but still has that controlled lullaby of screaming saxophone. (It’s been said that the saxophone is the closest instrument to the human voice.) Not needing to be jazz or fusion allows Moon Hooch to just be. No explanations needed.
Stalking out of the party, “Mountain Lion” sprinkles in the middle eastern flavor that has influenced much of the band’s evolution, philosophy, and social consciousness. The dance party slides in to create the shout of “Jiggle.” Melodic sax soars and shouts lyrics with a staccato, jazz-infused mayhem that bringings to mind the roaring twenties. Hitting a stride halfway through, twisting and stealthy, spiraling into another dimension, is a final crazy “Criminals” breakdown.
To explain “Improv Intro” seems silly. Just listen. The three musicians demonstrate the skill and brotherhood that has developed, as each fit a groove. “Improv” feels like a creation from another universe and quite possibly is. This fusion of metal, jazz, experimental, and improvisation brings chills in an auditory freak-out that feels oh so good.
“Ballad” is a close your eyes and dream moment on rapid fire release, a brief sensory experience. “Outer Urge” brings to a close a journey that is a gift to experience. Looping back around to the beginning with familiar composition is an intriguing skill that Moon Hooch keeps in their arsenal. Regardless the point is above all else: just dance. —Lisa Whealy
Moon Hooch will hit the road on both coasts and abroad in 2017, starting in February:
February 1 – Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
February 2 – Morgantown, WV – Main Stage
February 3 – Columbus, OH – Winter Werk Out
February 4 – Ferndale, MI – Otus Supply
February 8 – Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Iron Works
February 9 – Saranac Lake, NY – Waterhole
February 10 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
February 11 – Northampton, MA – Pearl Street Clubroom
February 12 – Hamden, CT – The Ballroom @ Outer Space
February 18 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
February 22 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst Atrium
February 23 – Chico, CA – Lost On Main
February 24 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
February 25 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
February 28 – Charlottesville, VA – The Jefferson
March 1 – Charleston, SC – Pour House
March 2 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
March 3 – Gainesville, FL – Changeville Festival
March 4 – Tallahassee, FL – The SideBar Theatre
June 2 – Oslo, NO – Nattjazz Festival
September 22 – Thornville, OH – Resonance Music & Arts Festival