When the Sun is the Moon
Sometimes the easiest music to grasp — in sonic terms — is the hardest to write about without resorting to oft-abused cliches or making the review sound like an experiment in creative writing. And so is the case with Hudson Bell, a Baton Rouge- born songwriter who is creating a buzz in his newly adopted home of San Francisco. Listening to When the Sun is the Moon can be a purely cathartic, physical experience with all the fuzz and feedback that resonates in your head and makes your chest want to explode. Like the best elements of Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr., this is all about the love of guitars. How they feel, how they smell and how they can make the world feel blissful even for a fleeting moment. The epic, opening track “Slow Burn” starts it all off with an unhurried 114 seconds of amps gently revving (the calm before the storm) that kicks into gear when drummer Brian Fraser rings the high-hat like a tolling bell telling bassist John Slater and guitarist Bell to get it going. You can just hear the tube amps respond in quivering exaltation, as each member strikes that root note. Add to this an accomplished, inventive lyricism (he has written many pieces of fiction for The Minus Times, a respected art-lit zine put out by Drag City Records in South Carolina) and you have an album that will also challenge your mind. There is both wit and wisdom in his lyrics, which can soften the blow of lines like “need a drink when you’re feeling like a loaded gun” (“Slow Burn”) or “they talk about things they don’t know…at least not yet” (“Strange Lands”). Which essentially puts When the Sun in a league populated by the indie-rock elite — one that can repeatedly satisfy on many levels.