The Moon Upstairs – Guarding the Golden Apple

5 07 2007

Laidbackness thanks John Macky for submitting a fantastic review of The Moon Upstairs who have recently released their latest album Guarding the Golden Apple.

Gifted Children Records – US

Release date: June 26, 2007

The Moon Upstairs, a five piece from Los Angeles, have traveled back in time, figured out the secrets of the late 1960s and early 70s and come back to the present day armed with all those glorious wonderful tricks that make up classic songwriting. Unlike the pretension of most “retro” acts out there today, these five are capable of bringing a new, fresh brew of psychedelia. In the spirit of bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and the later orchestrated workings of Mercury Rev, they still cosmically align with more current youngsters like Vietnam or Swedish psych rockers Dungen. Although these might be closer comparisons than others, “Guarding the Golden Apple” the debut album by The Moon Upstairs does not fit into any of these categories, which make them a bit more unique than the current crop of their psychedelic/folk contemporaries.


For a few years principal songwriter, Sharif Dumani and bassist Aaron Ebensperger, paid their dues playing with rock ‘n’ soul man Cody Chesnutt, who had garnered some attention a couple years ago and hailed the new Arthur Lee (Love) for the neo-soul generation. After backing Chesnutt, The Moon Upstairs became Dumani and Ebensperger’s full-time project and soon an album was recorded along with Mark Sogomian (guitar) and Josh Mancell (drums), all music collectors with a broad range of tastes and backgrounds.


Although The Moon Upstairs proudly wear their influences on their sleeves, they still maintain uniqueness that make the songs stand on their own. Sounding like the modern day answer to Pink Floyd, John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, Neil Young, and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” these guys might be the answer to a current state of cookie-cutter bandwagon indie rock.

Ambitious in its intent, with its soaring strings (arranged by Lavender Diamond’s Steve Gregoropoulis), horns, harpsichord, and more, The Moon Upstairs seem to have set out to create something big. With early solo Lennon and Meddle-era Floyd, Dumani uses this as a springboard for his haunting but gritty melodies. Songs like “We Can Get By In Time” and “Never Thought Twice” clearly show a John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band influence but remain themselves when strings, hammond organ, and sweet soul-style horns kick in. The epic opening track of the album “All is All” kicks off with huge haunting background vocals creating a dark mood for lyrics like “the parasites of selfishness that linger within each of us”, while “People in the Trees,” a song that lifts you above the trees and straight into a hazy kaleidoscopic sky, a wonderful swirl of Duncan Browne and The Left Banke’s baroque psychedelia. The album remains strong, leading up to the opus of the record, the last
track, “Sogomiac, the Moon Destroyer.” Starting off very experimental (think Amon Duul meets Sonic Youth), then slowly forming into a dark cloudy folk tune until the wailing Sabbathy guitars and tribal drum stomps begin and blast you into another dimension, and just when you think the song has peaked into an predictable finish, it comes back down into an organ drenched psych-folk ending with a gorgeous acoustic guitar and vocal melody that would even make Nick Drake smile.

Take Guarding the Golden Apple along with you while driving through small towns or pastoral landscapes while the moon is high… or just smoke some grass and get ready to take a trip into the outer regions your mind.

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3 responses

5 07 2007
Jessia

The Moon Upstairs rock. Greatest new band out there… Virtually unknown too.

9 07 2007
Leroy Betrice

I love this band. I just googled them to find out about their new album and found your site. Keep up the good work promoting good artists.

12 07 2007
Bob Hayes

The Moon Upstairs has a beautiful, psychodelic, George Harrison quality in it’s songs and is just good fun to listen to over and over. Guarding the Golden Apple will thrill you and keep your mind whirling long after the songs have played. Get this one soon.

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