Thursday 12 December 2019

Moon Cresta - Civil Fuzz Brigade (2019)

Country: Spain
Style: Psychedelic Funk/Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 22 Nov 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | Twitter | YouTube

Here's something a little different: a Spanish psychedelic rock outfit named for a Japanese arcade game who lean very heavily on the funk. The only band on their influence list who aren't regulars on classic rock radio stations (Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.) are the Raconteurs, a highly successful alternative rock band from Detroit in the late 2000s.

I can hear that sort of mix. Like those bands, Moon Cresta don't feel a need for every song to sound the same. There's a lot of invention here, as if the band are seriously exploring their musical influences rather than trying to sound like them. Yeah, I know, that should be a given but it's rare that it feels as obvious as this. A song like Misfortune Always Comes Again clearly comes from a Beatles mindset but there's a lot of Zeppelin in there too. I'd suggest there's more Zep on this album than anyone else even though the band only really sound derivative at points in No Time to Waste.

What surprises me about that list is the lack of more recent names. There's some Black Crowes in the opener, The Myth of the Rolling Rock, and Someone Has Put a Spell on You sounds like Lenny Kravitz with a fuzzy stoner guitar behind him. Here We Are has a rap vibe but it's never anything but funk, like Mike Patton guesting with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Mr. Know It All is the Beatles channelled through Extreme. Much of the fresh interpretation of old material is similar to what Saigon Kick did a couple of decades ago.

That recognisable Mike Patton vibe is all over Are You on Their Side? too, but the song feels more like a seventies song and not just because of a few Led Zep moments. I haven't enough background in American funk to be able to set up comparisons. Maybe I'll run this past my better half, who grew up in a time and space where that was everywhere and it became part of a musical baseline for her.

For me, this is a heady mix that gets headier. There's even some prog in the changes in No Time to Waste and that's a really weird thing because funk and prog tend to be more like opposite approaches than compatible ones. Suddenly the idea of funky prog makes sense. If I'm translating websites right, Moon Cresta go for "power funk", which makes sounds good to me. A lot of songs on this album could be hit pop songs, but they're generally much heavier than a mainstream audience is used to. Their debut album in 2006 was appropriately titled eROCKtile dysFUNKtion SOULution.

I've listened through Civil Fuzz Brigade a couple of times now and I'm sure that I'm going to playing it quite a lot more. I'm interested to see if any of the band members really start to leap out for special mention. Right now, beyond the vocals of Mr. D. that were always going to be a focus, this feels like a real band performance. Everyone's doing interesting things, often at the same time, but never in a way that steals attention from the rest of the band. Moon Cresta play deceptively loose but are actually really tight.

I'm not seeing a line-up history, but it looks like it's been consistent for a long time, with David, Mr. D., on keyboards as well as vocals; Manu "Doble L" on guitar and Antón F. "Piru" on bass. Manuel Ares is the new fish behind the drumkit, because it was Sergio "Sir" Puga on the last album, Moonary, in 2016. All of them deserve praise here as this feels like a real band rather than just a set of capable musicians playing in the same place.

I'll be listening to this more and looking for the earlier three albums (the other was 2010's The Sparkling Radio Stars and Their Lunatic Orchestra). At that slow release pace, that should keep me busy for a while until they get round to album five in another three or four years time.

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