Moon & Back Music Presents :: Album Of The Year 2010

And the winner is…

With the year quickly coming to a close, Ian and I felt it only right that we do some kind of end of year awards thing. I asked every member of the M&B staff what their top 5 albums of 2010 were, and the results were pretty surprising. There’s something here for everyone Whether you want futuristic R&B, tales from New Jersey or politically charged punk anthems, look no further.

After dealing with a debilitating addiction to prescription drugs, Eminem is back with Recovery. The rapper’s seventh studio album still isn’t a patch on his early work, but it easily beats out the likes of Encore and Relapse. The new record hearkens back to the old days, with Marshall being increasingly self deprecating, even going as far as commenting on the poor quality of his recent releases. Recovery is a gem in the sea of shit that is modern hip-hop.

Since signing with Sire Records in 2005, punk fans have reacted pretty harshly towards anything with Against Me!’s name on it. With the release of White Crosses earlier this year, the cries of the band ‘selling out’ continued. However, it’s hard to see why this is being aimed at Tom Gabel and co. Both this record and it’s predecessor New Wave may have been released on a division of Warner Music, but the music remains very similar to everything before that. As Ian would be quick to point out, it’s the same chord progressions and lyrical content as ‘old’ Against Me!, it’s just better produced. It’s Moon & Back’s fourth favorite of 2010 and I think fans should take a second look before dismissing the band outright.

Janelle Monae was the artist that most surprised me in 2010. Her debut full length The ArchAndroid: Suites II & II was the soundtrack to my summer, and it’s good to see that it’s not just me that took notice (cheers Jodie, for pushing this into our top 5). Miss Monae is, without doubt, the most exciting woman in R&B at the minute and this record is a soul-filled throwback to times passed. This is real R&B and I for one am tipping the 25-year old, Kansan songstress, for big things in the future.

Coming in at number two, sadly -because I think it should have won – it’s Fake Problems’ new record Real Ghosts Caught On Tape. The Floridia-based indie/punk four piece have wowed many with their fresh, upbeat sound and off the wall antics, both on and off stage. 2010 has been a big year for these guys: RGOT released to rave reviews, they’ve toured all over the US on the Vans Warped Tour and even did a stint with the winners of this years award. With catchy lyrics, great production (Ted Hutt is a genius) and a fun, retro take on ‘pop punk’ I can’t help but think this record has been a tad overlooked. These guys best tour the UK next year!

This year’s Moon & Back Music Album Of The Year goes to…American Slang. The Gaslight Anthem’s third album seems to have had an effect on the Moon & Back staff (though Ian remains adamant of their ability to bore him). The New Jersey group’s tales of murky cities and urban saviors might not be for everyone, but the follow-up to, 2008’s, The ’59 Sound has secured messieurs Fallon, Rosamilia, Levine and Horowitz a place as one of the best bands of recent years.

So there we have it. That’s Moon & Back’s verdict on the top 5 albums of this year. If you don’t agree, you’ll have your chance to vote on all the albums picked by the Moon & Back staff in the ‘Readers Choice’ award coming later on this week. This will be followed by the ‘2009 Album of 2010’ award – awarded to the albums of last year that we only got around to in 2010.

Album Review :: Brett Detar – Bird in the Tangle

Grab your stetson and lasso and let them wagons roll as Brett Detar takes us out into the wide blue yonder for some camp fire classics

Brett Detar

Bird in the Tangle © Brett Detar

Contrary to the less than profound and heart-warmingly cutesy-poo blurb above, Brett Detar’s Bird in the Tangle is not a saturated, Malborough Man oriented country album. Instead Detar’s obvious talents, and love for a genre that has often been at the butt end of jokes for its over romanticized notions, are lent more towards a deliciously sinister and vibrantly honest approach to country music.

With a career that is deceptively longer than his 32 years would suggest, Brett Detar’s musical journey has seen him helm and participate in a number of bands such as Pensive and Zao in the later half of the 1990s. It was not until he formed a side-project with fellow musicians Chad Alan, Joshua Fiedler, Neil Hebrank, and Jeremiah Momper forming The Juliana Theory that Detar would find stability in his musical direction. Touring and recording material for nine years up until 2006 with a spate of recent reunion shows having taken place in August of this year.

With this vast musical resume behind him, Detar now ventures into the solo artist world. Since the breakup of The Juliana Project, Detar amassed a number of songs from his every day dealings and with the financial backing and time ready to dedicate to such a project, Bird in the Tangle is the end result.

The album opens with a trio of vastly different and highly enjoyable country numbers; “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “The Devil’s Gotta’ Earn,” and “It’s Only the Night” a hauntingly serene ode to the long gone, misty eyed past of the old west debauchery and lament. These opening tracks have a wonderfully gifted infusion of alternative country mixed with traditional slide and guitar techniques normally associated with this type of music. However, Detar’s lonesome vocals give a 21st century indie feel to the overall concept and subject matters.

“Coasts,” and “Cocaine Whiskey and Heroin” are much more upbeat, enjoyable ventures into Bluegrass and Americana anthems. The latter of which is a wonderful pseudo lament to the foibles of the human condition, a vague warning that the vices and enjoyment of dizzying highs can be all too much for one person to endure. It’s up tempo and toe tapping optimism however flashes a roguish wink to the listener and audience that it might not all be bad.

Closing the album are a trio of sinister sounding, raspingly vocal tracks shine as wonderful examples of Detar’s passion and raw musical ability leant to a 21st century twist on country music. “We’re Broken but we’ll Never Be Alone,” and the final track “This World aint got Nothing” are two microcosms of Detar’s sound and ambience the artist has created for himself and listeners.

Although this frankly realistic and post post modern take on a genre littered with self detaching clichés is refreshingly honest, Bird on the Tangle tends to let itself down a little on the originality front. Standing at an adventurous eleven tracks long there is a stark sense of repetition when it comes to both subject matter and delivery of tone, vocal and musical arrangement. The tracks “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “Caged Bird” and “This World aint got Nothing,” all have the same slow, lethargic pace that feels all to familiar by the time the album closes. This is of course a staple of the Country and Americana genres but to be placed on a debut album does not entirely encourage listeners to pursue further avenues.

The album on a whole however is a very enjoyable and interesting twist on a scene that can be often overlooked as being a serious and inspiring collection of artists and work. Too often is the country genre associated with the rose tinted spectacles of Kenny Baker, Dolly Parton and Glen Campell, each with their crotch hugging, bra bursting rhinestone outfits and perfectly permed hair leering at us from the stage singing about dead dogs. Bird in the Tangle is a much more realistic, deeply brooding album filled with eclectic and indolent tracks that would be more at place amongst the dysentery riddled high plains. Indeed this is an album more suited to 2011’s “True Grit” audience than the 1969 version.

Jonathan Whitelaw

The album is available for a short period of time on free download via the official site. This is also home to all the usual tour, bio, discography and album sales information:

Podcast :: Under The Bridge #11: Bum Tish Skillz

“Is it gay if you have a dream about sucking yourself off, but you don’t cum?” – Ian Critchley

With Ian back from his holidays and a busy week ahead of us, we got around to recording episode 11 of Under The Bridge. This week we were joined by our favorite ex-pat Kris Smith to let you know what was going on in the world of music. Prepare for laughs as we discuss cheese rolling in Portsmouth, Blink-182’s UK tour and Sweeden’s population of cats. Kris tried to talk about John Coltrane, but we talked over him. Shame.

This week our music comes from Frank Turner — ‘St. Christopher Is Coming Home’, ‘I Still Believe’, ‘Try This At Home’, ‘The Ballad Of Me & My Friends’

Go on, have a listen – Under The Bridge #11: Bum Tish Skillz (right click/ctrl + click to download or subscribe on iTunes!)


  • Southsea Fest wins ‘Best Event’ in Portsmouth’s The Guide Awards
  • David Lynch to release electro album. Single already released.
  • Laura Marling cancels tonight gig due to snow.
  • Blink-182 add 3 more dates to their UK tour
  • Elton John calls Oasis brothers “silly sods.”
  • System of a down confirmed for Download 2011.
  • ‘Give Peace A Chance’ gets new verse.
  • Jay-Z & Beyonce will make great parents, says her mum.
  • Rival Schools interview and acoustic set on
  • Panic at the disco to release their album March 8th 2011.


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The Podcast

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Stuff worth mentioning

  • Interview :: Sean from Your First Mistake
  • Going Underground :: Leagues Apart
  • Canada, Eh? :: The Flatliners
  • Brothers In Arms – Famous Siblings In Rock & Roll – Jon Whitelaw
  • Interview :: Andrew Jackson Jihad
  • Album Review :: Buffoon – Familiar Sounds
  • Album Review :: Tinashe – Saved
  • Interview :: Buffoon
  • Interview :: Less Than Jake

Coming Soon

  • Interview – Chuck Ragan
  • Interview – The Menzingers
  • EP Review – Frank Turner – Rock & Roll
  • Video Interview – Jonah Matranga
  • Dicking Around Presents… Jonah Matranga (Again!)
  • Dicking Around Up North/With Frank Turner
  • Interview – Frank Turner
  • Interview – Dive Dive
  • Carolling With Crazy Arm
  • Interview :: Crazy Arm


  • Rate and review & subscribe to the podcast on iTunes
  • Visit Moon & Back Music
  • Visit Unrated Music
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Album Review :: Buffoon – Familiar Sounds

Belgian indie veterans come together to release their first fully fledged CD in an attempt to broaden their listenership and our horizons.


Buffoon - Familiar Sounds © BUFFOON recordings/Jesus Factory Records

The country of Belgium is famous for numerous things. Chocolates, canals, Tintin and Trappist Monk beer. They are therefore not entirely synonymous with music beyond their flat borders. This is perhaps about to change however as the first fully loaded, fully comprehensible album from the band Buffoon goes on general sale. Poignantly titled Familiar Sounds, this latest effort from a Belgian band who are considered a super group in their homeland has a sound that is worthy of the international market.

Formed by their enigmatic leader, Peter Vleugels, a self styled and taught musician who learned to love music in the hazy days of the late 80s, Buffoon has become somewhat a popular alternative choice in Belgium in general. Formed from members of bands that could be loosely labeled indie, the lineup of Niels Hendrix on guitar, Mimi Van Den Put on bass and Dave Schroyen on drums, this amalgamation of talented young artists from the Belgian independent scene soon found their voice and direction, forming the band that appears in its entirety now.

With this latest offering in a long line of independent EPs and self published material, Familiar Sounds is a stomping introduction for a much wider audience than the band is used to. The initial interpretations of the band are not the usual eyes rolled response to yet another mainland European act desperately trying to conquer the already mass populated British and international market. Instead, a refreshingly original take on a relatively harder sounding indie theme greets the listener in a pristine, shimmering presence and production.

The opening track “Twisters” has about as much in common with the pre-formed stereotypes and skeptical nuances associated with Euro music as McDonalds has with gyms. The audience is instead treated to a roaring, up beat, high octane guitar anthem infused with a large dosage of electronica for good measure. The theme continues on with “Act as If” and “Did We Forget”, a more relaxed, slowed tempo rock lament. The eclectic guitar and bass of Hendrix and Van Den Put illict sweet memories of early Rolling Stones and Beck. Vleugels’ vocals, timing and tone make the audience weep at every note. The closing solo satisfies the listener as the damaged soul of the protagonist bleeds through the watts of the amplifiers.

Familiar Sounds closes with two contrasting tracks that perfectly sum up the album and band as a whole. “Strange” is another lazy, sun kissed rock number, excellently executed by a band that could quite easily be mistakenly taken from coming from an era and place far from their homes. Conversely the concluding track “Did We Forget? (Appendix)” serves as a less than harmonic, all together bizarre conclusion to an album that otherwise has a structural and musical hospitability. Possibly born out of Vleugels’ love for electronica and the musical freedom he has enjoyed under the blanket of international anonymity, “Did We Forget (The Appendix)” is a track that caters to the bands own preferences and in truth feels more like an in joke than a professional output to potential fans and album buys.

In all Familiar Sounds is an excellent introduction to a band that is perhaps unknown to most listeners within the UK and international listening communities. With a plethora of talent both on and off stage, Buffoon stands a competitive chance at making some headway in their quest for recognition. In a digitally dominated age such as this, bands like Buffoon have more than a good chance of breaking into the mainstream and with material like Familiar Sounds then they are in good stead.

Jonathan Whitelaw

For more information on the band, tours and availability of the album, check out their website:

Going Underground :: Doll & The Kicks

© Emma Stone Photography

“You’ll be hard pressed to find a better live band right now”

Going Underground has tended to be the realm of Mr. Critchley and local punk bands. Not that I have anything against either of them, but I’m here to broaden your musical palette with a band that are bound to have you dancing and singing along in no time…Doll & The Kicks.

Their unique sound and elaborate, high energy, performances have made the Brighton based foursome one of the must see bands of the past few years. Their unique brand of danceable, punk infused, pop has captured the attention of music lovers around the world, now they’re back gracing stages across the UK and Europe until the end of November.

Having missed the majority of their set in Manchester earlier this month, I caught them in Leeds on Monday and was, once again, blown away. I must’ve seen them live five times now, each show better than the last. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better live band right now.

These guys are bound for big things and rightly so. Be sure to catch them on one of the following dates:

Sneaky Pete’s – Edinburgh – Oct. 7th

The Classic Grand – Edinburgh – Oct. 8th

The Flapper – Birmingham – Oct. 9th

Hoxton Bar & Kitchen – London – Oct. 13th

The Kraken Wakes – Portsmouth – Oct. 14th

Louisiana – Bristol – Oct 15th

The band’s new double-A side single ‘Skeletons/The First Time’ was released on September 20th and it’s bloody brilliant! You can order a physical copy for some bonus track goodness, or download it on iTunes. For more songs, dates and to buy t-shirts and whatnot check out their MySpace page. Also be sure to check out Emma Stone’s other photos from the Leeds show here.

Gig Review :: The Gaslight Anthem – Academy 1, Manchester – 24/06/10

We had the greatest expectations…

It was an up and down day really for the Gaslight gig. After seeing a band play as hard as Hot Water Music just days before, it’d be hard for any band to impress me. This wasn’t helped by the exchange Ian and I had with Brian Fallon pre-gig either. All that aside, I’d been told to expect a good show from the New Jersey boys and that’s what we got – a good show. Nothing amazing, but it was far from bad.

Now I don’t want people thinking I’m hating on the band, the music they make is really good and they showed that on stage at Manchester’s Academy 1. A place I’ve not seen that packed in quite some time. The crowd was ready and the band were definitely up for it. The thing is, something was missing. There wasn’t that spark that’s needed to take over a room. There was no energy to the performance. Musically the band were great, but they seemed static throughout. Not to say that they’re lazy, but Brian barely moved throughout the whole set and even had a bit of a moan about his setlist.

Speaking of the setlist, it was great. There was something for everyone in there and, honestly, it was everything a Gaslight fan would want. A good mix of songs from each of their albums, and a lot of them too. There was even a cover of The Who classic ‘Baba O’Reilly’ in there for the older members of the audience. The highlights came in the form of ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Boxer’ and ‘The Spirit Of Jazz’. Three great songs played really well. However, the band seemed fairly sloppy for the most part. Then again, when compared to Chuck Ragan and Co., that seems inevitable.

Overall the show was good and I’d definitely recommend that you go and see them live. However their live show is just that – a show. I couldn’t really call this a performance def. They played ok and the crowd loved it, but I know, and I think they know, they can do better. They’re back touring the UK in October.

Album Review :: The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

Have we got our album of the year already?

Virtually unknown up until a few years ago, New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem have become one of the premiere bands in the world today. Their sophomore release, The ’59 Sound, was one of the best albums of 2008 and now the boys are back and they’ve brought another fantastic record with them.

American Slang is definitely a step forward for the four-piece, who’ve gone from strength to strength with each release, and is bound to be one of the albums of 2010.

The album opens with the title track and, from the off, you can hear how the band has progressed since their previous release. American Slang is definitely showcasing a more mature Gaslight, and a band more in tune with their influences.

There’s more a hint of The Clash on this record, something that’s certainly not a bad thing. Brian Fallon had equated Gaslight’s progression with that of the British punk band in the past and, despite appearing somewhat arrogant, he’s not wrong. London Calling showcased The Clash at their best after a good second release. Could this be an omen?

As Clash-laced as this album may be, there’s also a distinct R&B/Soul influence too. On tracks like ‘The Diamond Church Street Choir’ this becomes immediately apparent. It’s a nice change in pace, and that track in particular quickly became one of my favourites.

All this talk of influences aside, American Slang is a fantastic album that bridges the generic gap. Whatever you’re into, there’s something for you here. It’s a definite progression for the band and one of the finest albums of 2010.

Stand up and take notice.

Super Groups – Part 1 The Good, Better and Best

An insight into the weird and wonderful world of super groups, starting off a two part feature, firstly with the good side.

Travelling Wilburys

The Travelling Wilburys clockwise top left; Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison

The world of Rock and Roll has been more than giving to loyal fans and casual listeners over the many beer and whiskey soaked decades that have gone before. Each band and artist within the sweaty scene has their own unique contribution to the glorious and sometimes infamous world that refuses to exist quietly. But what happens when members from numerous acts form together, combining their talents and trials for everybody’s entertainment. Ladies and gentlemen, the Super Group is born, wide eyed and desperate for a beer!

As the name says, a super group is, at least on basis of foundation, meant to be super. In a world as volatile as the music industry, and the rock scene more so, it is no mean feat when a number of artists, their baggage and creative styles and all, decide to group together and produce music. Although the idea sounds bad at first, potentially life threatening in some cases, it is remarkable to find that there are actually a few genuinely good super groups that were able to produce notable music that still rocks. These chosen few create a wonderful blend of styles and bring listeners a good dose of music meant more than simply an outlet for aging rockers to have one more stab at some fame. Of course, those exist also. Here in part one we’ll explore the best.

The concept is not a new one to music, the first recognized super groups date back as far as 1968 with Cream. This band of course featured Eric Clapton fresh from The Yardbirds, Jack Bruce of Manfred Man and Ginger Baker of Graham Bond. However, there is some speculation and mild controversy amongst fans of the band and rock music as to whether Cream should be considered a super group or not, their status now firmly placed within rock music lore as being a credible enough band to be considered stand alone, their four albums released over three years a testimony to this. Another super group, considered by many to be the first true band in the sense, are Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN). Again, these artists are now more recognised for being within this band and achieving greater success than they did as either solo artists or members of previous groups. Cream and CSN, although some of the very first bands to be labelled with this title, skirt the borderline between super group and regular band. Their success however cannot be considered ambiguous as they both continue to tour and perform to this day.

One group, however, stands enormously large over the others like a rampaging giant across a Belgian countryside and, considering their personnel have every right to do so, were The Travelling Wilburys. Consisting of Jeff Lynne of ELO fame, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Bob Dylan no less, this group is the archetypal example of what and how a super group should be created and performed. Each member a more than credible source of material and musical ability, The Travelling Wilburys to this day still exist as the best example of how potentially fantastic a super group can be for fans of the individual artists and the music they play. Primarily focussing on a more country/folk rock style of music, each of the five transatlantic members come together in a wonderful mixture of harmonics, playing ability and song writing ability. Their debut album, ‘Traveling Wilburys Vol.1’ remains the jewel of the small collection from this group, Handle with Care a fun, imaginative and feel good song that is a pleasure to listen to and enjoy.

The death of Roy Orbison in 1988 however spelled an unceremonious end to the Travelling Wilburys. Their tenure only lasted two full albums and a compilation album, and in many opinions this added to the mythos of the super group. Their short lived success is now consigned to the history books and has left fans and music lovers alike wondering what might have been had they been given a longer shot.

The drama and bedlam that is so often associated with super groups often contributes negatively to the press the band in turn receives. However, there are plenty of positives to take from the amalgamation of very different styles and approaches to rock and roll music. Other very good super groups worth noting that perhaps did not achieve as great success as their peers or previous incarnations would be The Firm, featuring Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Audioslave with Chris “Bond theme” Cornell of Sound Garden and Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine. Finally Bad Company with Paul Rogers, who also fronted The Firm with Jimmy Page, of Free. A cheeky tip of the cap goes to Journey who, again are more famous for being a stand alone group, consisted of former Santana musicians but also because everybody seems to love them strangely. Look out for Part two when we examine the ugly side of Super Groups, and it’s not pretty!

Jonathan Whitelaw

Tracks and albums are available from Amazon or iTunes. Check out these websites for more band information:,,