Dead Moon

In the Graveyard

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Garage punk legends Dead Moon captured the spirit of adamant self-reliance that set the stage for independent labels and independent music in general. Recording, releasing, and even going so far as to cut the master lathes for all of their records, married couple Fred and Toody Cole were already years into making music when Dead Moon materialized in 1987, siphoning both the nervous punk impulses of their band the Rats as well as hints of the oddball country feel of their short-lived project the Western Front. While some roughness around the edges is to be expected with any first record, the rawness of Dead Moon's 1988 debut In the Graveyard is undeniable, its lo-fi production as much a part of the final product as its manic, seething energy. Fred Cole had been making high-strung garage rock since the time of the Seeds and the Count Five with his teenage act the Weeds (later renamed the Lollipop Shoppe), and those influences live on to some extent in these songs. Public domain standard "Hey Joe" shows up here in a raved-up style and the Toody-sung cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" is filtered through the moody paranoia that touched Arthur Lee's early performances in Love. A schizoid take on surf guitar also comes through in a ripper like "Graveyard" and in the breathless tension of "Out on a Wire." Slight open-plain Western influences shine through in the album's more subdued moments, coming off like some strange home-schooled version of the 13th Floor Elevators playing covers in an empty cowboy bar. Decidedly a rock & roll band, Dead Moon came about at the tail end of punk's transition into hardcore, and the band shares the same perfect articulation of Northwestern isolation in the Reagan era that their contemporaries the Wipers had and a few years later Nirvana would build their sound off of and take to the masses. Unlike those bands, and really unlike anyone else to some degree, Dead Moon's refusal to play by anyone else's rules on any level makes their sound all their own, from the jagged mono recording to the chilly shut-in vibe that drips from Fred and Toody's pained howls. Future albums from the band would continue more or less along the same path set forth on In the Graveyard, but the excitement and unhinged wildness of this very first set of songs make the album especially electric and completely essential.

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