Moon City Boys
I was charmed from the moment I opened their parcel. Typewritten, hand-folded paper sleeve, adorned with found art and glued-on band photos. I wasn’t sure if that sort of thing still happens and it makes me happy that it does. The sound is of a band unafraid to grow up in public, harking back to a time where indie was not a cliché, but simply meant ‘independent’, and a culture where a truckload of ideas was more valuable than a library of chords.
Moon City Boys formed in Stockholm in 2011, the name a metaphor for their hometown (a “moon city”). Three longstanding friends from the same district – Kelly Wedin (guitar), Sofia Eklund (vocals), Ella Rolf (bass), together with Siri Jennefelt (drums) – started playing together in Ella’s mothers garage, armed with a makeshift drum-kit. ”None of us really knew how to play an instrument but our goal wasn’t to be ”good” musicians, we were more anxious to pin down the feeling of the song”. Various drummers came and went until April 2014 when Sofia’s cousin, Liselotte Bramstång, became their permanent drummer. Other than Liselotte, who grew up in the countryside and has been “playing the drums loud in her living room since she was five years old, none of the band have any musical education. “We don’t know what is right or wrong except for what we think and feel! We realise that the better we get at our instruments the easier it becomes to express exactly what we want, but the energy of MCB has emerged from frustration and eagerness.” The demo reveals a band growing rapidly in ability and confidence, from simple and brittle early songs and instrumentals, where guitars sound like an itch that the band can’t quite scratch, and a heartrendingly tentative and tender cover of Elvis’s ‘Always on my mind’, through the more epic and hypnotic ‘Rise and Fall’, the offspring of the Velvet Underground and Alison Statton, to “Sea swallow me”, bulding on a familiar ‘Be my baby’ drumbeat and producing something musically and lyrically devastating, emotionally raw, restless and gorgeous.
When I mention echoes of the Raincoats in their music, they’d rather talk about Television and Lou Reed, and the inspiration of Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s uncensored history of punk, “Please Kill Me”. Nor do they wish to be pigeonholed, “our sound varies and it’s more tied to feelings and energy. We don’t have an idea of exactly what we want to be or what we are, it is more important to be free and unidentified”. And like their post/punk predecessors, their lack of tuition has been their liberation. “Not to be able to play the instruments very well has given us the nerve to try anything, to play with the instruments and play with the sound. The frustration is to our advantage by giving us freedom and we get very focused on the goal to make it. It hasn’t always been easy to suck, but it has motivated us!” Songs are created from Kelly’s guitar lines and Sofia’s lyrics and melodies and the whole band form the complete songs together. Two songs form the new single, “Rockets” and “Stranger” and showcase a sound which is all their own – playful and mischievous and powerful. “It feels good to release them, they’re two of the first songs we ever wrote together, so they have sentimental value, which suits the theme of the songs, to let go and move on”.
They are ambitious and hardworking in all the right ways. “We will never give up trying to be attentive to new inspiration and overcoming obstacles. We are careful with the sound and what we give away. We work hard for our music. We love the naked, sensitive, free, honest and emotional, but never in a self-conscious or pretentious way”. Moon City Boys are a rare treasure, old friends with an almost telepathic understanding of what makes the other tick, an unquenchable thirst for communication, a fearlessness of hard work and a willingness to learn from their mistakes, and a knowledge that the most difficult path leads to the most beautiful destination.
Robert McTaggart, Copenhagen 2014