It might seem that record labels aren’t that important — that if expression is truly organic, it will materialize for better or worse, no matter the medium. In a way, I think that, though it would be a hypocrisy considering that I’ve just spent the day bit**ing at Sub Pop on Facebook, contemplating my hatred for Polyvinyl and considering un-following Burger (a decision I would’ve regretted in light of their recent Sweet Reaper share). This is the Kit, the stage name of one British Kate Stables, has been on four different labels in four years. Wow, I’d hate to be this chick’s boyfriend… nothing spelling of “chopping block” about that or anything!
Anyway, two songs into this album, after the luminous guitar tones of “Bullet Proof,” and the gritty guitar and thundering bass folk rock of “Hotter Colder,” you start to wonder whether Stables is even CAPABLE of writing a song in conventional meter — she seems overwhelmingly predisposed to odd time signatures, which come across sort of like PJ Harvey’s tactic of just trying to be different for difference’s own sake. Well, it works, for better or worse, especially in this current age of extreme musical uniformity. The most important aspect of Moonshine Freeze, though, is that the tones are never overly harsh or annoying — it’s an orchard of sounds, without an excess of vine thorns.
After “Hotter Colder” ends with possibly the best saxaphone solo I’ve ever heard in my life, the titled track comes in as easily the most normal song on the album from a phrasing standpoint, jangling away like a sharply effervescent Junip… with a really funky bass! This is fun enough summer music that in the winter it might just make you want to stupidly do all the same things you did in the summer. We’ll see if that ends up being a good or a bad thing. Unlike “Hotter Colder,” “Moonshine Freeze” ends too abruptly, whereas the former, after a brief pause, had chimed back in with that saxaphone solo like something totally refreshing in the realm of 2010’s music.
“Easy on the Thieves” is percussionless psych-rock in three-four, with that same impossibly rich and decadent guitar sound (somewhere Les Paul is smiling in his grave about this bid-ness). Here the mantra is “People want blood / And blood is what they got”. I’ll just let you contemplate that on your own for a time being.
Apropos of all this, if there’s one thing that sets apart Moonshine Freeze CULTURALLY from all competitors, it’s the unusual and refreshingly curious song titles (track five goes as “All Written out in Numbers,” calling somewhat to mind the New Pornographers and “The New Face of Zero and One” and “The Jessica Numbers”). But by the time you’ve contemplated the NUMEROLOGY of it all, “All Written out in Numbers” has crept on your psyche like a Xanax or a nice big hearty stack of chocolate chip pancakes, somehow eschewing time signature UNORTHODOXY, rather than orthodoxy, and brandishing several different guitars for a veritable folk/distortion orgy, ALMOST sans drums (I don’t hear any high hat or cymbals actually, just extremely spare bass and snare). A light sprinkling of piano then graces the song’s guitar solo and thick strings send the song into the night, an annoying but seemingly necessarily evil, the mark of the overproduced day in which we live. Piano then dominates the minor-key “Empty No Teeth,” which he**, is just downright trippy, with again extremely spare production, though this time exploding into a medley of instrumentation including banjo and tuba (a tactic used with similar exorbitant success by Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing in his solo stuff, the produced by Dave Matthews). By “Riddled with Ticks,” unfortunately, lack of stylistic variety from song to song starts to rear its ugly head as an issue, this being the fourth ambient no-drums tune in a row. The vocals are there, though, sung heartily with a chorus of “I know what is truth”, which makes the little masquerade at least listenable. Finally at “Two Pence Piece” we get a break from the swarthy, overly melodic ambience, with something a little more resembling of a GROOVE — a refreshingly cheap-sounding drum machine beat and some digital claps, representative of the faux-goofiness you might find if you peruse Glasser’s electronica masterpiece album T. True to ideal, “Two Pence Piece” is once again funky, the horns which come in not really contributing or detracting, but just kind of sounding jealous of Stables’ incredibly free, rocking “shtick.” Notably, at this point she’s just spent an entire song repeating “I know what is truth / I’m dying to fight you / I will fight you”. Then, maybe, she did.