Black pudding. Crow. A big, hot, steamy bowl of death. Depending on who you ask, all of these could be considered dark snacks. But Southern duo The Moaners have a delectable dish of their own to offer you, a twelve-song delicacy that’s tough, meaty and raw. And they called it, as you may have guessed, Dark Snack.
A taste of Dark Snack reveals some rough but sultry female garage blues that goes down easier than the name might imply. The duo comes across as something of a hybrid between Polly Jean Harvey and The Black Keys. These gals are brash and fiery like Miss Harvey, but like the Keys, they’re deceptively soulful and make a lot of ruckus for just two people. In fact, I’m a little curious about how all of these songs are meant to work in a live setting, considering just one overdub leaves an extra job to be done. And that would require a trio.
Logistics aside, Dark Snack rocks, no matter how they pull it off. Frontwoman Melissa Swingle sings with a lazy drawl that gives the songs a detached swagger. Imagine Stephen Malkmus sexier and female and it would come close to Swingle’s delivery. But adding to the overall awesomeness of the music is her slide-guitar playing, which recalls Steve Turner’s grungy blues sound on Mudhoney’s My Brother the Cow. Finishing off the combination plate is Laura King’s solid, four-on-the-floor drumming. She lends an added weight to these songs, making them not only badass, but really goddamn heavy as well.
Just about every song on Dark Snack is worth a bite, from the opening romp of “Heart Attack” to the closing dirge “Chasing the Moon,” a spacey, beautiful lullaby featuring singing saw, of all things. These two songs bookend a plethora of standouts, like the swampy stomper “Terrier,” the slinky strip-club blues of “Water,” the jangly pop of “Talk About It” and the dreamy ballad “Secret Joy.” For thirty-five minutes, The Moaners cook up a mean batch of Southern-fried rock that’s meaty, but palatable.
If the food metaphors didn’t get the message across, I’ll put it straight — Dark Snack is one badass album. It ain’t a new idea, but quite frankly, I don’t care. Loud guitars, a sexy swagger and good songwriting always make a good combination. And when The Moaners do it, it’s quite tasty.
PJ Harvey – Dry
The Black Keys – Rubber Factory
The Breeders – Last Splash
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.