Like You Were Never There

When I was a teenager, I used to love to listen to the Beach Boys, They Might Be Giants, and various other happy-sounding, 60s-era bands while I was cruising in my car, enjoying the summer months. (Yes, I know that TMBG isn’t from the 60s, but I listened to them.) It was a wonderful time before I had to worry about paying bills and working eight hours a day. I listened to these older bands because, thanks to Nirvana, none of the bands that were out at the time seemed to be able to produce a happy, just-makes-you-feel-good CD. As much as I like angsty, progressive, tortured-soul rock, sometimes you just need something that you can sing along with and feel good while doing so. The Austin band Moonlight Towers has just such a sound.I know I said that I would try to stay with strictly local bands, but when they sent me their CD and it was actually good, I decided that I could stretch my rules just one more time. They produced it in New Orleans, so I’m going to say that they are semi-local, and that allows me to review them with impunity.Their album is called Like You Were Never There and has some of the coolest and most environmentally friendly packaging that I have seen for a CD. The entire thing is made of cardboard. The front cover depicts a skull with heart-shaped eye sockets; you open that up and then you have to untie two flaps; these open to the CD, which is held in place like a mini vinyl album. Too neat!!! Inside with the disc is a booklet containing very artsy, black-and-white photos of the band, but absolutely no writing. Going by the skull and the name of some of the songs, I thought for sure that I would be listening to a heavy metal album. WRONG!!!The first song on the CD is called “Never the Same Again,” and it came as a total shock to me when it sounded more like The Beatles with attitude or a good version of The Rembrandts. (For those of you who don’t remember The Rembrandts, they’re the ones that sing the theme song from Friends. Having been a fool that actually bought their album, I can tell you that was their only good song.) This band has a sort of 60s-boy-band sound: think Jan and Dean with an attitude and modern facelift. They’re full of harmonies – real harmonies, not those depressive minor harmonies that make your dog put his head under the pillow because the sounds are hurting his ears.

More importantly in my book, these songs are fun and catchy. I found myself singing along with several songs after only listening to the CD one time. Even better, I found myself wanting to listen to it more than once, and I am actually considering putting the entire album on my iPod. The lead vocalist, James Stevens, has a voice reminiscent of Axel Rose without the whiny-fourteen-year-old-girl-on-her-period quality, and the backup vocals are tight.

My favorite song on the album was track four, called “Everybody Knows Why.” After one listen, I skipped back so that it would play again, and I found myself singing along with the windows down in my car, just like I did when I was a kid. My second-favorite song on the album has sort of a 70s’, country flair and is called “Every Second Drags.” However, I can genuinely say that I liked every song on the CD. How many times can you say that?

I truly wish that this band was more local so that I could more easily see them live, but I am going to keep an eye on their website to see if they come back to Louisiana or Houston. If they come, I’m so there. If you would like to hear this band, you can go to www.moonlighttowers.com. There, you can download three songs from Like You Were Never There and other originals from two prior releases. Each of the three CDs is available for purchase on this site. Also, you can purchase individual tracks from www.myspace.com/moonlighttowers.

If you would like a fun album to have for this summer, and you don’t want to follow the crowd, then I would highly recommend picking up Like You Were Never There.

If you’re in a local band and want a taste of Carole’s medicine, send her a demo or let her know when and where she can check you out.