Moon Bros. - The Wheel LP
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"Moon Bros. is more or less the solo project of guitarist 'Fred' Schneider and was brought to our attention by the Queen of Colorado herself (aka Josephine Foster). Fred appears on Foster's No Harm Donealbum, and she returns the favor by singing on one of the tunes here. Many of Fred's earliest recording efforts were done with a variety of Chicago-based post-rock/jazz-flecked combos (The Exciting Trio, HIM, etc.) But for the past few years, he has used Moon Bros. to explore contours of more rurally-based sounds. Employing pedal steel, acoustic guitars, harmonica and vocals, Moon Bros. have produced five previous albums (two of them vinyl) on which Fred ponders the mysteries of Chet Atkins, and the other Nashville-based musicians he was drawn to before being sucked into the avant vortex of the Windy City. The music on The Wheel is brilliantly plain-spoken. The songs all possess a quality that feels more like a meditation on country music than country music per se, but this is not to infer they possess ironic distance or anything like it. Rather, they have open structural centers that avoid creating easy hooks, generating sweet atmospheric conditions rather than the tight pop formalism that is Nashville's commercial stock in trade. There is a looseness to their construction that reminds me a bit of Michael Hurley's rambling approach to sonic architecture. The tunes share Hurley's out-of-time quality as well. Listening to The Wheelyou'll get no easy clues as to when it was recorded. Could be from any time in the last half a century really. There's no dipping into any trends, just beautifully crafted and deeply atmospheric music that will make you feel like you're sitting on the back porch, in the summer, with the stars blazing in the sky and a sweet snootful of bourbon handy. If that's not a feeling you'd dig, I suspect you're living on the wrong planet." --Byron Coley, 2023 45rpm.