A mixture of song-based progressive pop with well-structured music with a touch of cool jazz
Working on album reviews can sometimes be a trite disappointing. Especially so when checking out a long-awaited project from a named band that has a solid reputation for excellence but which falls well below expectations. And so imagine the delight when coming across an album that is both interesting and unique, a rare find of diamond proportions from an unknown band that suddenly makes you sit up and take note. Such is the case with ‘Moth Man’ a British band with a markedly imaginative style of their own.
Although the guys in the band have known each other for a lifetime and have played in other bands together it was only as recent as 2016 that ‘Moth Man’ saw the light of day and together morphed into a single paraphyletic body.
There is a strange and distinctly haunting air to the music, the immediate focal point of which is the deeply resonant baritone /bass voice of Simon Findlay. A deliciously rich creamy textured and cultured voice indeed. But of course subsequent listings reveal a much more expansive and meaningful magnetism to the musical arrangements. In this respect there are a whole host of lovely keyboard and guitar intrusions that decorate the proceedings with oodles of panache and a kind of delightful textured charm. All of which is exacerbated by the mostly sedate and very stylish pace of the compositional style. Thus setting the scene for the basic musical arrangements whilst adding instrumental colour with exquisite layers of sound.
All of the songs are original compositions, the ideas being generated spontaneously at the various band jam / practice sessions. Basically, these collaborations are very much joint efforts often starting with one of the guys setting out an interesting groove. ‘Simon Findlay’ then adding framework vocals and melodic bridges. Such outline ideas are then subsequently shaped and melded before being honed to perfection in the studio.
Clearly too the band play close attention to the overall feel of the music taking the basic music structure a further step along the pathway to excellence. Not only is this from an instrumental perspective selecting the most effective sound effects and instrumental fills to colour the flow and maximise the interest of music .There are, for example, some wonderful female vocals integrated providing a perfect balance to Simon’s distinguished tones. Other notable contributions being Hammond like organ, solid imaginative drumming with nice bass lines and a vast array of keyboard and guitar sound effects. In all honesty this album is a treasure trove of beautifully considered music that reveals itself to the listener more and more with each successive play.
Moments of surprise too in the shape a single country style track thrown in to remind you that these guys have a widely diverse capability to widen their appeal including the temptation to sling in the odd but charming line of complete lyric nonsense al .
An interesting set of tunes from a very talented band that have their own distinctly original style that crosses over many genera.
Simon Findlay: Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Gary Boyling: Drums and Percussion
Steve Thompson: Bass and Keyboards
Simon Cullen: Acoustic and Electric Guitars
I am indebted to Steve Thompson for providing me with tons of additional information about ‘Moth Man’ which I originally intended to integrate into my script above. However, I decided to credit Steve, as should be the case, as I could not relay the script better than him, many thanks Steve:-
“Moth Man formed in 2016 and are located in Manchester and Reading U.K. And have created most of their songs in Simon Cullen's basement studio in Manchester the band started working on their debut album “Where the Dead Birds Go”. In June 2020 they signed to ‘Billywitch records’ and the release date for the album was set for March 2021.
Gary was previously a member of Sonny Black’s Blues Band. Simon Cullen: Guitars. Both Gary and myself have supported acts in other bands we play with including Bad Manners, The Selecter and The Beat. Although these don’t reflect our own music really.
Other contributors and collaborators on the “Where the Dead Birds Go” album were: Elysia Lake: All of our female vocals apart from Train Song (Heather James). She is the daughter of Gary our drummer and a very promising young vocal artist. We hope to be working with her again on the album we’re working on now. John Ellis: Hammond, Rhodes, Piano. John is based in Manchester and had played with The Cinematic Orchestra, Lily Allen, James Yorkstone, Tom Jones and John Squire amongst others. Peter Wakefield: String arrangements and strings. Also from Manchester> He has created string work for Olly Murs, Christina Aguilera, Kanye West, Tom Jones, Kylie amongst many others. Stuart Mortimore: Slide guitar and Dobro. Mordecai Smyth: Additional guitars. His help along the way in getting this album completed was considerable. Tabitha: Clarinets. Gergo Bille: Flugelhorn, Trumpet. The band name originated from our song by the same name on the album. Simon, Gary and myself have played together for most of our lives and used to meet regularly at Gary’s house in the country to basically drink too much, play music and write songs.
The name Moth Man came from a 3 in the morning excursion we took around the local fields. A stray reveller from a local party appeared out of the copse dressed totally in white glowing in the full moon. Very surreal. He was even worse for wear than us and we directed him back to his party. So we wrote Moth Man about him, also a song about those great times and our affection for them. There’s a kind of double meaning in the name too. Moth being magnetically drawn to their flaming end acted as a kind of metaphor to us for artists and their art maybe. Or at least the state of grace in which it’s created. The album title “Where the Dead Birds Go” came from a conversation Gary and I were having with John Ellis during one of the recording sessions. He hadn’t been well recently and was still recovering and in a fragile state. He was speculating in all sincerity that for the amount of birds you see in the sky, we generally seldom seem to see them dead. Well that just kind of stuck with us so we used it for the album name.”