The Moaners

Blackwing Yalobusha

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The Moaners were already rockin' the messed-up blues with impressive results on their debut album, 2005's Dark Snack, but they dig deeper into the heart of their music on their sophomore release, 2007's Blackwing Yalobusha, and it's one wild and moody ride. Blackwing Yalobusha was recorded at the Mississippi studio that used to be the Money Shot, where much of the Fat Possum Records roster did their best work, and the ghosts in the room seem to have gotten into Melissa Swingle's guitar; she feeds plenty of primal slide work and gutsy chordings through her amp, and while she's hardly a virtuoso, she generates a truly commanding racket that conjures up an impressive, soulful power. Laura King's drumming is perfectly simpatico, filling up the spaces and pushing the tunes forward without wasted force, and in Blackwing Yalobusha's finest moments, you're never conscious that there are only two musicians playing these songs. The slightly arch tone Swingle brings to some of her songs is still the Moaners' sticking point, but it's less intrusive than on their debut, and she's grown into a better storyteller, as the celebration of one badass female on "Foxy Brown" and the multilingual passion of "French Song" confirm. The Moaners aren't really playing the blues -- there are too many fractured structures and too much indie rock irony for that -- but the closer they get to the tangled roots of their influences, the stronger they become, and Blackwing Yalobusha is a satisfying step forward for this duo.

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