Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sounds of the Season: The Moon-Rays
Most folks are unaware of the long history swing & big band music has with Halloween. I myself was oblivious to this until I heard some of these amazing tunes on Mr. D's MySpace page (it ain't around anymore, otherwise I'd post a link). Musicians like Lois Armstrong had Halloween hits in their day, but most of these tunes disappeared into obscurity after rock replaced big band as the dominant musical genre. In more modern times, we've had some acts who've recorded Halloween party-appropriate tunes in this style (Squirrel Nut Zippers and The White Ghost Shivers spring to mind), or who've incorporated elements of the genre into their tunes(Oingo Boingo), but no one has really revisited those songs of yesteryear...until now!
The Moon-Rays are an indie band I was introduced to by my soul-sister, Wendy the (VERY) Good Witch. With their album, Swingin' at the Seance, the Moon-Rays have dug up those old classic jazz, big band & swing tunes and strapped them to the mad-scientist's table. With their own brand of jivin' electricity, they've brought these beasts back from the dead...and unleashed them on YOUR Halloween party!!
The vast majority of these tunes I had never heard, and I was amazed at this fact! These songs are wonderful, fun romps that pay loving respect to this most wonderful of holidays. Add in the fact that the band is a tight, well oiled machine that can actually handle these tunes (something not many acts could do, in all honesty), and you've got one hell of a Halloween disc on your hands! I dare you to listen to tunes like "You've Got Me Voodoo'd" or "Headless Horseman" and not tap your feet! Kids will love these, as they're just FUN ditties all the way around, and adults will appreciate the fine musicianship. Anyone who loves Halloween will dig the imagery being weaved throughout. For good measure, the Moon-Rays have included a couple of original compositions, but these tunes blend in so perfectly with the vintage numbers that you'd have to have a fairly extensive knowledge of these songs to pick them out without benefit of the liner notes.
Speaking of liner notes, in this day and age when CD packaging is becoming a thing of the past, The Moon-Rays have opted to give us a disc with extensive pictures, notes and artwork (all lovingly assembled and designed by Wens herself)! This gives an added element that is missing from so many modern albums, with pics and artwork to add to the mood, and notes to give you a sense of the history involved.
Upon my first listen, I have been hooked! Swingin' at the Seance is an instant Halloween classic, and it will find itself in rotation at all my future Samhain shindigs! Let me be clear about this: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this disc, and if you are a Halloween nut even remotely into swing, jazz or big band then this is a MUST for you! You can snag yourself a copy at CDBaby or Amazon!