Local Love: Race To The Moon
It’s funny to me when I hear something different, that my mind links it to elements I’ve heard before. Sometimes what I hear in one thing is so minimal, that linking it to another artist feels like a stretch to some. However, it’s not really a stretch when you listen to the new full length, “What A Time To be Alive,” from Houston’s Race To The Moon. The four piece has always felt like they were still finding their sound whenever I would see them play live. On this record though, I hope what they’re bringing is the sound that they choose to define themselves. Elements from rock’s past are all over the eight songs within, while crafting a path that that feels new, even when parts of it aren’t new at all.
On the opening track, “Other Side,” the four piece brings this seventies guitar that feels bigger than the heart of the song. It’s almost like the jam band vibes of the opener are cut short by the fact that this guitar exists, yet the song itself is so short in time that it really doesn’t affect it. A group chorus comes in and goes fast while that big guitar permeates the track from start to finish. The second song, “Thunder” goes further than the opener, and feels more fleshed out. Kicking things off with a heavy drum track that is met with a mix of two guitars that lead the song forward to a poppier feel, and is a standout song on the release. You begin to realize with the vocals, that Race To The Moon isn’t like any other band. The structure of the song has pop hooks while being different and holding your attention. The third track, “Always” has hints of country intertwined with a nineties college rock feel. The use of group backing vocals is a nice touch, and the song, like most on the release, are structured differently than anyone else you’ve heard. The emo elements coupled with the snappy drums really add a whole new feature alongside this twangy guitar that feels like it should be on something by Robert Ellis.
The fourth song slows things down, and the band stretches their legs a bit on “Get Better.” Continuing with a hook heavy guitar that dances in and out of the track, there are hints of Bare Naked Ladies and early REM all over the song. There’s even a guitar solo that really gives a new element to the band’s sound. The band keeps things on the slower side with the following song, “Strong,” while picking up the pace on the sixth track, “Pick Sides.” The moderately paced tune has these pop elements coming from all sides where it feels like the band is letting loose. They follow this with the differently structured, “Buffalo.” The song has this really pretty dual guitar that sways atop the vocals in a way that I’ve not heard in a long time. The track opens like a seventies Southern California jam, with these melodic guitars that really take the song to another place. It’s not anything that’s over the top, but just the fact that they keep the song bare while adding these little touches made it one of my favorites of the eight. The closing song, “Sing Along,” another standout track, has this poppy jam band vibe that keeps its speed from start to finish. There are moments, maybe for just a half of a second where the guitar comes in on it’s own and adds a different element to the band’s overall sound. The song gives you the feeling that you’ve dropped low grade acid at an outdoor music fest, and you’re dancing with a strange girl named Meadow. Things get polished off with group vocals, and you’re left wanting to repeat the track again. The snappy rhythm guitar helps keep the song from slowing down, while the lead guitar leaves you with a hook that sticks in your head.
The end result is a band that’s taken cues from early nineties rock elements coupled with a jangly tone that feels like the perfect mix of indie rock and indie pop. Race To the Moon finds a way to forge their own path without reinventing the wheel, but still holding your attention. You can hear these songs live as well as grab your own copy when the band headlines their album release party at Rudyard’s on Friday October 2nd. The 21 & up show will also have Houston’s Brand New Hearts and Middlechild on the bill with doors at 8:00 and an $8.00 cover.