Here’s Willy Moon
One of the best discoveries I made while on a recent stint in California was an artist by the name of Willy Moon. His debut album, Here’s Willy Moon, dropped last month and he’s been getting nothing but love out there.
I caught him at The Troubadour in West Hollywood a few weeks back and was blown away. First of all, it was a Tuesday and the place was packed – that is something you simply do not see in the city of Toronto – and second, the energy in the room was palpable. I haven’t been that caught off guard by a new artist in a long time, and that’s really exciting.
Aesthetically he’s completely classic. I’m talkin’ early 1960’s pop crooner down to the vintage tailored suits and greased pompadour hair. Sound wise, this is a guy whose voice is rough enough to sing the blues, but smooth enough that it lends itself to soul just as easily.
Moon is clearly an artist who understands how to pull upon a wide range of musical influences, and takes things one-step further by showing he understands them just as well. From the bouncy Bo Diddley back beats he uses, all the way through to his bluesy lingo and deep, gravely Long John Baldry-esc voice, Moon get’s it; there still ain’t nothin’ like good old rock and roll.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. If you look up Moon’s latest video for a song called “Yeah Yeah,” it’s pretty much a nuevo Beat Gap commercial. I showed up half expecting his live show to include faux 50’s college kids wearing black turtlenecks and reciting poetry while they chassed across the stage with those dead fish hands. Turns out it wasn’t anything like that; it was raw to the bone.
I don’t know if that’s the smartest thing in the world, or completely off the wall, but it was a total dichotomy. Moon wasn’t the sleek, awkwardly lanky pop crooner I had perceived him to be; he was dramatic, feverish, and alive out there. And his moves, oh his moves; they were totally Sam and Dave (look it up).
Moon’s all female band, which included guitarist Juliette Jackson, was absolutely wild. If I made music, instead of writing about it, I’d kill to handle a guitar with the same kind of fluid confidence she has.
There is something incredibly exciting about Willy Moon. He isn’t just a well-marketed, freshly packaged remake, he’s got soul and jive, and that comes from the heart. Sure, that might make him an easy target for a bona fide musical hardass, but there isn’t a single person alive that hasn’t been inspired by things that someone else thought of first.
In music, we see recycled things everyday, and, once one generation replaces another, old tends to become new again while most are none the wiser. We’re used to shitting on artists that borrow without understanding where what they’re referencing came from, and often times they deserve it. But, when an artist borrows, makes it their own, and does it unbelievably well, kudos are in order and this guy’s done it.