Song of the Day: Moon Duo - Mazes

photo by Suzi Pratt

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is the title track to the 2011 album Mazes by Moon Duo out on Sacred Bones.

Moon Duo - Mazes (MP3)

The formerly San Francisco based duo of Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada formed Moon Duo in 2009. They claim to have been inspired by the duo of John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, though sonically they are much different and deliver their tunes via guitar, keyboards, drumtrack and vocals.

Rather than choosing to record their second album at home, as they did their first LP and EP, Moon Duo sought out actual studios to lay down tracks for their songs and then flew to Berlin to mix and re-record certain parts. As Yamada says, they “wanted to do something in a more ‘rock ‘n’ roll band’ style, something a bit fuller” than before, and Mazes certainly strips down some of the fuzzy, psychedelic guitar that Ripley is known for, especially in his other band, Wooden Shjips. In today’s featured song, the title track to the album, you’ll hear how the two balance recognizable pop melodies and shoegazey drone, as whiffs of vocals fade in and out along with the surf guitar riffing and prolonged keyboards, and the song eventually evens out to a tight groove. Midway through, you get a total breakdown until things come together again, glommed together, fuzzed out, with expertly muted vocals. In the end, “Mazes” demonstrates Moon Duo’s upbeat approach to the fuzzed out riffs and muted vocals often found in indie music today and manages to find a happy medium between summer road trip pop and moody psych jam.

Moon Duo just wrapped up a European tour earlier this month, but if you want to keep up on future dates check their website and MySpace page. In the meantime and for your further enjoyment, here is the official video for today’s featured song, “Mazes”:

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