Moonalice - High 5 Review

Moonalice - High 5 Review

Moonalice has existed on the periphery of my musical world for some time now. They first popped up on my Facebook feed with their excellent allusions to “Moonalice legend”, usually followed by a picture of an adorable baby owl or something similar. As I learned more about them, I started listening to their stuff, and I thought it was very cool that they were able to get a song downloaded over 4.6 million times (single “It’s 4:20 Somewhere”) without major label representation.

Playing a mixture of original material in the vein of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic, and everything in between (plus a fair amount of covers), Moonalice (comprised of Barry Sless on lead guitar, pedal steel guitar, and bass, Pete Sears on bass, guitar, keyboards, and vocals, Roger McNamee on rhythm and lead guitar, bass, and vocals, and John Molo on drums and vocals) have played with everyone from Steve Kimock and Bruce Hornsby to Jefferson Starship and Phil Lesh.

While they continue the grand tradition of extended spaced-out live improvisation, Moonalice’s studio tracks are a more relaxed and easy-going take on things, as the album meanders through sunny southern California, driving through the hills under an endless blue sky. Songs like the splashy 8-minute “Paradise” and the movie-soundtrack-worthy “Summer Rain” carry the distinct San Francisco vibe of the ‘60s.

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While the studio versions of the tracks may be more tightly structured affairs, if you’ve been listening to jam music for any length of time you can tell where they left the room for onstage improv. The delicate, bright leads are reminiscent of Jerry Garcia and that effortless, breathy feeling seeps into every song; this is great music for wandering through the woods, fishing, or just enjoying the sunlight on your back porch (especially on your back porch).

Anyone who reads my column regularly knows I always recommend listening to an album straight through, and this is no exception. Like most jam bands, the studio version is a bit restrained, but that’s what comes with recording jam music in a studio setting. The longer you listen, the more you want to see Moonalice live. Songs like “Live a Little (That’s Right)” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” are just begging to be opened up all over the stage, causing mass grins with no warning.

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Speaking of seeing Moonalice live, if you’re near the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, CA on Thursday, November 3rd, go check them out! They’re playing a special show that includes a unique poster (as do all of their shows) and guest sit-ins that are sure to delight music lovers of all varieties. More info and tickets here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1796698233933302/.

So be sure and check out High 5, it’s pretty sweet, you’ll be stoked you did. If you can make it out to the show, awesome, but either way, let the music play. Happy listening!

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