Cool Moon. Photo: Jay Littleton
If you were planning on starting an indie rock band in Houston, you’d have to really go above and beyond to stand out these days. The growing landscape of indie rock acts that are blooming like springtime flowers is pretty grand. Of course, for Houston’s Cool Moon, they’ve never really had to fight for space as they’re easily one of the more intriguing indie rock groups to call Houston home. Originally containing Mercy Harper from Football, etc., the trio has always done things in a way that was a little different. On their new full-length album, Postparty Depression, they prove that doing things your own way can ultimately pay off. In eleven tracks they forge their own path with subtle reminders of ’90s indie rock and emo acts while never biting from anyone. Now, with a new lineup and a full-length set to drop this Friday, they prepare for the album release party to take place upstairs at White Oak Music Hall.
Opening with the light intro to the album, “Pretty Sure Everything’s Fine,” the band plays into a build up that rolls into the second track, “Holy Hell,” where it’s obvious Cool Moon isn’t playing around. Coming off like a mix of Husker Du and Jawbox, the female lead vocals from Andrea Lisi offer a strong beginning to the album. Closest to a mix of the endearing vocals of Letters To Cleo’s Kay Hanley and the timbre of Anna Waronker of That Dog, the vocals play an important role in the shape of this bands songs, but not to deter from the strength of their songwriting. The bridge used here is emblematic of how the trio writes and performs their songs, complete with a complexity often gone unnoticed in the indie rock genre. The pauses before the storm these three create from a sound that you probably won’t be used to, but one that you should champion. This is followed up by the heavier sound of “Solitary Confinement,” before the verse kicks in to draw you nearer. There’s a subtle beauty that Cool Moon brings to their tracks where they lie somewhere between bedroom pop and indie rock to craft a sound that’s hard to pin down, but one that you should find yourself falling for with each listen.
The fourth track, “Standing,” slows things down a bit, but doesn’t alter the band’s sound. Those indie rock touches, so prominent on the opening tracks, are all over this song as well. The drum work from Anthony Schillaci are upfront in the mix, but not overly drawn out, creating a nice sound where they can be their own without deterring from the song’s initial intent. By the fifth song, “Count Down,” the fuzzy riffs and Lisi’s endearingly honest vocals should have you counting the days until the album’s release. One of the many standouts of the eleven songs, the hook heavy stride of the song that hits like you want a song to hit gets mixed with heartfelt vocals that stick in your head. The chorus will definitely meander in your head days after you first hear it, like any well written song should. Falling closer to an early Superchunk sound on the sixth track, “Massive,” there’s really nothing lifted here. Cool Moon places themselves ahead of the Carolina band in their catchy song structure on yet another song you’ll bop your head to while you repeat the song for multiple listens.
The same can be said of the opening riffs of “Splitting Hairs,” where the guitar reminds you of the catchy notes of bands like Ex-Hex and Joan Jett. However unlike those groups, Cool Moon keeps your attention with their blend of driving drums and snappy bass lines that keep the song speeding alongside the guitar. The band goes a little slower on the Pixies sounding “Abandonment Issues” before offering up a more anthemic sound on “Camping.” The opening drums coupled with the engaging guitar offer a sound that makes you almost want to chant along before the band takes you into another bridge that pulls you in. Two songs later, the three-piece closes the album off with the slow and meandering opening of “Election.” Making good use of the group’s dynamic, the sound of Lisi’s vocals and guitar with Schillaci’s drums create a vacuum of sound that sucks you in before the chorus hits with a precision that you won’t see coming. One of the more complex tracks of the album, the break down after is intense and full of angst, without seeming like that of an angered person, but that of a band that can go just as hard as they can go catchy.
You don’t have to be a music writer to enjoy what Cool Moon is doing here. By writing songs that you can’t unhear and keeping the vocals at the front of the mix, they’ve created a sound that you shouldn’t forget anytime soon, nor would you want to forget them either. You can grab a copy of “Postparty Depression” when Cool Moon plays their album release party upstairs at White Oak Music Hall on June 30. The all ages show has sets from Get A Life, Hypoluxo, Rose Ette, and a DJ set from Jazz Radio, with a $10 cover and doors at 8 pm.