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Lo Moon: “We lost a lot during the Trump era”

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Lo Moon knows a thing or two about starting over. The Los Angeles-based foursome have been guided through the music industry: signed to a major label, mired in deals, and then forced to start all over again after things went wrong. Her story is less from rags to riches and more from rags to almost-but-not-quite. But now they’re back with a brilliant second album and much more to prove.

Their early music was eclectic, to say the least. 2016’s self-titled debut featured ambitious songs like “This is It,” with its insidious guitar notes and bold synth hits, and the expansive “Camouflage,” which featured frontman Matt Lowell’s voice drenched in Hall. They had noodle saxes (“My Monday”) and driving, nervous dance rhythms (“Wonderful Life”). That was probably a bit much. Now they have taken a step back for their new album a modern life, an exquisitely cohesive record that retains the cinematic quality of its music – without overwhelming the listener. ‘Dream Never Dies’ stars a delicate motif of arpeggiated piano notes, while ‘Expectations’ brings out the best in Lowell’s plaintive falsetto amid a soaring, anthemic chorus of Springsteen proportions. The poignant ending “Stop” has an Americana touch, thanks to a dreamy slide guitar, while Lowell delivers the moving lyrics: “Dying here with all my believes/ Laying crosses on the red winter leaves/ I know what I know, I need let go .”

Lo Moon are finishing an arena tour supporting their indie psych rock dreamers The War on Drugs. Lowell and guitarist Sam Stewart sit outside a nondescript bar in Paris, a stone’s throw from the Folies Bergère, enjoying some April sunshine ahead of tonight’s show at L’Olympia. They’ve got a Lennon and McCartney thing going: Lowell is exuberant and questioning, a quintessential New Yorker, while Stewart is calmer, surveying our surroundings from behind his round sunglasses. The pair met after Stewart moved to LA from his native England in 2008, joining Lowell and bassist/keyboardist Crisanta Baker. Sterling Laws – a drummer for artists like Kim Gordon, Olivia Rodrigo and Matt Berninger of The National – completed the group.

a modern life, Released in late February, it is the culmination of more than two years of work. Lowell describes it as “a labor of love and frustration”. Despite living within 10 minutes of each other, the band adhered strictly to local lockdown rules and much of the initial recording process took place over video calls. But the themes explored on the album took shape long before that. Songs like opener “Carried Away” are built out of a kind of confused nostalgia. Celestial keys orbit acoustic guitar hits and determined percussion, building to a swirling climax. Lowell sings with a weary, lilting sigh: “I feel lost in time and space/ Faked the smile that is on my face now cause/ Some get buy and some get sell/ Like Mr Rogers, bless his soul.”

“I thought a lot about my childhood,” Lowell tells me. “And about my parents getting older – they generally just ask bigger questions that I didn’t have on the first record.” In fact, the loss of innocence has been a theme in his work for decades. The first song he ever wrote was about 9/11, in his sophomore year of high school. The tracks on the new album, notably “Raincoats,” were influenced by Kurt Anderson’s 2017 book Fantasy Land: How America went haywire. “We lost a lot during the Trump era,” says Lowell.

A modern life was released through Nashville-based indie outfit Thirty Tigers, but their debut was released by Columbia Records, who signed Lo Moon after the release of their 2016 debut single “Loveless.” It taught them a lot. “It took about a year and a half to get out of the wreck,” Lowell says, wincing. “It’s almost funny how cliche it was.” Stewart says the time reminds him of a scene in the 2010 comedy take him to greek where Jonah Hill pitches an idea to naïve talent scout P. Diddy’s ruthless executive. By the time their first album was released, the people who had stood up for them had left the label. “We thought there was no point in us being there,” says Lowell.

Those strained early experiences, coupled with living in LA, have given the band a healthy dose of skepticism about the industry. As the son of Eurythmics musician Dave Stewart and Bananarama’s Siobhan Fahey, Stewart already had an idea of ​​what to expect. “I really didn’t know what else to do,” he says of the path he’s taken. “I grew up in a band – we broke up. I followed my brother [Django] and my dad to LA. It wasn’t even a choice…I just don’t know anything else.” His attitude, and Lowell’s, of feeling as if they were being drawn to the music by an invisible thread is certainly at odds with the murderous ambition of their peers L.A.

“The scene there is built around the industry, which makes it pretty sad,” says Lowell. “It’s like a bunch of songwriters trying to write the greatest songs they can write and everyone’s like, ‘I’m going to be the greatest artist of all time. And I need anyone to help me get there.'” Stewart mourns the once-thriving indie scene of Echo Park, where he used to live, which “swallows” and gets into “quasi-indie folk-pop stuff.” was transformed. “The one thing that most people in LA have in common is that they move there to ‘make it’ in some way,” he says. “Everything, whether it’s streaming or how many likes you get, it all seems so stat-driven. And it’s really hard not to pay attention to that.”

“It’s seeping in,” Lowell agrees. “Everyone waits for their Olivia Rodrigo moment and it doesn’t happen. Especially not for bands.” But they don’t care. “The careers of the artists we love and look up to have never been like this…” He points straight up. “We’ve learned a lot about our strengths over the years and we’re just much more interested in that. Now that we’re doing it ourselves.”

A Modern Life is available now. Lo Moon play London Lafayette on April 25th

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/lo-moon-interview-a-modern-life-b2062465.html Lo Moon: “We lost a lot during the Trump era”

JOE HERNANDEZ

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