If one were to happen to hear Moonalice's self-titled debut album without any information about its source, it would be easy to believe that it was some lost recording from a forgotten band of the Woodstock era. The disc has a Marin County country-rock flavor akin to, for example, the Grateful Dead albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, with a psychedelic element, as if made by the musical members of a hippie commune circa 1970. It is clearly the work of a group, with the musical styles shifting subtly from song to song, just as the lead vocals are passed among three different singers, one woman (Ann McNamee) and two men (Roger McNamee and G.E. Smith), and the subject matter of the lyrics ranges from accounts of pyrrhic romantic encounters to spacy new age philosophy. The surprise is that the music is made by a band founded in 2007, but the personnel helps explain the conundrum, with such names as Jack Casady (bassist for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna) and Pete Sears (bassist/keyboardist of Jefferson Starship) the most prominent, along with Smith, a veteran guitarist whose work stretches from the Hall & Oates band of their 1980s heyday to long stints with Bob Dylan and the band on Saturday Night Live. The principals, however, seem to be the married couple Roger McNamee and Ann McNamee, not as familiar names and both alumni of a second-generation San Francisco rock group called the Flying Other Brothers. Come to think of it, so is everyone else in Moonalice, except Casady, and even he has appeared on Flying Other Brothers album 52-Week High. In effect, Moonalice is the Flying Other Brothers under another name. Those who read the business pages of newspapers as carefully as the music pages may be interested to know that this Roger McNamee is the same Roger McNamee who is a venture capitalist and the co-founder of Elevation Partners, a firm also including Bono of U2 that, among other things, owns part of Forbes magazine, on whose board McNamee sits. In this sense, his side career as a rock musician may be seen as a sort of rich man's hobby. Nevertheless, he and his wife are craftsman-like writers, singers, and musicians in their chosen style, and paired with the music veterans in the group, they make music that should please aging hippies and younger members of the jam-band scene alike.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann