Roky Moon & BOLT, Roky Moon & BOLT

Roky Moon & BOLT, Roky Moon & BOLT

There’s a point early in Roky Moon & BOLT where you can feel the change, like a switch being flipped. Suddenly, it feels less like you’re listening to an album by a rock band and more like you’re listening to/watching some quirky, sidewise-smirking musical about a mythic rock band. And by “musical,” I mean a full-on rock opera with music penned by Jim Steinman and David Bowie, sets and weird-ass plot ripped from late-night B-movies and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and a rough-and-tumble band that sounds like they’d be equally at home hanging out with Jerry Lee Lewis and the New York Dolls. That’s pretty much Roky Moon & BOLT’s eponymous debut album in a nutshell, right there.

And yeah, it’s awesomely fun stuff. Campy at times, sure, and definitely goofy at others, but pure, flat-out fun, at its core. Roky Moon and the gang blaze through a near-dozen songs that mash together down-home boogie, dirty-edged glam, and the deliberate artifice of the rock musical, and they do it with big, uncaring grins on their faces, like they’re having the best damn time you’ll never, ever have.

When I talk about “artifice,” by the by, I don’t mean that they’re faking it — on the contrary, the BOLT crew play like their lives depended on it, like nothing else matters a bit. What I mean is that this really, truly does feel like a rock opera, and like pretty much every one I’ve ever heard or seen, the songs feel like they’re shoehorned together into some vague semblance of a plot. I’ve got no clue what that plot is, no (although the name “Avery” comes up more than once, I think), especially with the creatures of the night roaming in-between the choruses, but it feels like there’s definitely meant to be some kind of connecting thread throughout.

Opening track “Hot Saturday Night” kicks things off perfectly, with Hair-esque backing vocals, roadhouse piano, fiery guitars, and lyrics about seizing those nights and never letting go, and the band rolls on through the anthemic, fist-pumping “Five Dollar Fame,” with its rollicking, nonstop beat, seesawing guitars, and a sweeping, raise-your-lighters breakdown near the end that belongs on Ziggy Stardust; by then, I’m fully hooked.

“Spins and Shakes” follows in the same vein, bluesy and wild, and then “You Are a Shooting Star” comes in with its classic-rock stomp — it’s glam-rock, make no mistake, except for those crazy (yet totally perfect) Engelbert Humperdinck-like piano trills. I feel compelled to note that despite her seemingly shy demeanor, pianist and background singer Cassie Hargrove is the band’s secret weapon, smoothly shifting between delicately grand keys and pounding, whiskey-drinking boogie piano, all the while belting out

Then there’s “Vampire,” an entertaining, Elvira-worthy blast of “Suffragette City”-style rock that leaves it unclear if the vampire Moon’s talking about is a real vampire or just an evil, evil woman. I can’t help but crack a smile every time I get to the line, “She was hot for Hamunaptra!”, even if it makes no damn sense (“Hamunaptra” was the name of the made-up lost Egyptian city in The Mummy).

As you can probably guess from the paragraphs above, there’s hardly a low point on here, and plenty of highs. “The Monster Came Out of the Woods,” with its “Born To Be Wild” riff, roars and bellows beautifully, “Lives Like Ours” comes off like Meatloaf singing Springsteen, and “She Was Only 17” makes me think of amped-up ’50s doowop, and all three are fine tracks.

By the time the band finally gets to closing track “The Man Who Couldn’t Save the World,” it makes absolutely perfect sense to hear it: a stark, dramatic story-song that spells the sad, forlorn end of…well, something, anyway; the song never really makes it clear what it is, but honestly, who cares? Getting there’s the best part.

[Roky Moon & BOLT are playing their CD release show 11/27/10 at The Mink, along with The Tontons, Giant Princess, We Were Wolves, Electric Attitude, The Shells, The Watermarks, Young Girls, & The Mathletes.]
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, November 24th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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3 Responses to “Roky Moon & BOLT, Roky Moon & BOLT

  1. creg on November 24th, 2010 at 2:39 am

    as good as Hedwig, every bit.

  2. Jeremy Hart on November 24th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Yeah, that one occurred to me, too, but sadly, I’ve only seen bits & pieces of it…

  3. trixie on November 30th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    The recording of the album sounds amazing! I got my copy at the record release show. Seems they recorded at Digital Warehaus which is a local studio. Too bad the sound at the club was crappy. I don’t know why the Mink won’t spend some $$ on the PA.

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