Live: Moondoggies; Crash Mansion, 04.25.09

Writing about The Moondoggies is harder than it sounds. It isn’t that their music veers into complex, atonal sections utilizing previously-unknown tunings, or that their lyrics reference forgotten philosophies developed in postwar Europe. Rather, it’s the same problem I’m having as I formulate thoughts on the new album from Portland’s Weinland: namely, how does one  get across that this band takes a familiar sound and plays it very, very well without sounding repetitive or somehow undercutting the strengths of that sound.

Live, The Moondoggies come across as two parts Creedence, two parts Rust Never Sleeps, and one part Meat Puppets II. Three-quarters through their set last night, the phrase “the Northwest’s best Southern rock band” also ran through my head, though I don’t know whether I actually believe that. Essentially: they’re a group that can barrel headlong when they want to while retaining the ability to veer off into noisy, haunted soloing. As on their recent Don’t Be a Stranger, the highlight of the set was “Night & Day” — and specifically, that song’s restrained opening, soothingly delivered by Kevin Murphy. And while I wouldn’t have minded hearing more of their gospel-gone-skewed side, the set as a whole worked well, never losing momentum or wearing out its welcome.

(Below: a live performance in Seattle of “Undertaker”.)