In his 1980 absurdist-romance novel, Still Life With Woodpecker, Tom Robbins says that the light of the full moon, seen through a window set high in a lonely bedroom, is almost equal to the brightness of the light of a 40-watt light bulb hung high from a lonely bedroom.
While the science behind Robbins’ claims probably doesn’t hold up, the image has stuck with me a long time, and I’ve long wondered if veteran Memphis rockers 40 Watt Moon are fans of Robbins as well. Whatever their reading tastes, though, last month, the group released their new full-length album, Ghost From the Stone. They will continue the promotion of the release with a concert at Lafayette’s Music Room this Wednesday, July 10th, at 8:30 p.m.
- Ghost From the Stone
The album pays homage to ’70s and ’80s power pop (think The Posies) and ’90s Britpop. The guitars, played by vocalist/guitarist Kevin Pusey and lead guitarist Chip Googe, are crisp and bright, and Vince Hood beats on the drums as if he’d just heard them insulting his mother. Bassist Michael Duncan rounds out the band and keeps the low end grooving in sync with the drums.
The tracking was done at Young Avenue Sound with engineer Scott Harden and at American Recording with in-demand Memphis mixmasters Toby Vest and Pete Matthews.
The album opener, “Venus and Mars,” is an excellent example of what’s to come, all jangle and melodic vocals. The refrain is infinitely hum-able: “Venus and Mars and runaway cars on the skyway.”
On “Lazarus,” Pusey sings about an old friend returned from the brink of oblivion. The relief is palpable in the singer’s voice as he welcomes an old friend he never expected to see again. The song is made especially poignant by the ranks of Memphis musicians who have fallen prey to overindulgence of their more hedonistic appetites.
“Liz Phair,” a personal favorite, opens with blues licks in a crunchy, rock guitar tone. The song is a tribute to one of rock’s leading ladies, who last year celebrated the release of her landmark debut album Exile in Guyville with a vinyl reissue. The 40 Watt Moon song is replete with references to Phair’s oeuvre (including her sophomore release, Whip-Smart): “Whip-smart right from the start … Liz Phair, I don’t care if the whole world stares.”
The closing track, “Nine Muses,” is quieter and more contemplative, with arrangements that give the song room to breathe and marinate in the atmosphere it creates. Fittingly, the final lyrics on the album are, “She has trouble with goodbyes.” 40 Watt Moon will have CDs available at the upcoming show at Lafayette’s. So fans who are similarly afflicted with farewell-difficulties never have to say goodbye.
40 Watt Moon performs at Lafayette’s Music Room, Wednesday, July 10th, at 8:30 p.m. $5.