The Moaners

Dark Snack

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While Melissa Swingle was easily the best thing alt-country drifters Trailer Bride had going for them, one listen to the first album from her new band, the Moaners, suggests that she might have been better off taking a different tack from day one. The Moaners' 2005 debut, Dark Snack, is a stronger and more engaging disc than nearly anything Trailer Bride had to offer; Swingle and drummer Laura King's simple but expressive blues-influenced tunes give this duo a strong melodic backbone, and Swingle's primal guitar and King's rock-solid drumming kick the melodies forward with a welcome degree of muscle. If there's a shade more irony in Swingle's vocal delivery than she really needs, the rock action of the music more than makes up for it, and these stripped-down blues accents favor her more than Trailer Bride's faux-country lope. Rick Miller's production gives this two-piece an admirably full sound without cluttering the surroundings, and the band manages to sound alert and snappy while bowing to the classic behind-the-beat traditions of the blues. Dark Snack is a solid reintroduction to a gifted artist, not to mention a fine debut from a band with no small amount of potential.

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