Los Angeles’ Brass Box, a four-piece goth/shoegaze outfit, has released their latest single “Moonlight Desires” with an accompanying video directed by Joey Halter. The new song is a cover of Laurence Gowan’s original from his 1987 solo album and doesn’t seem, initially, like it would be a likely candidate for a cover from such a band as this.
Gowan, formerly known as frontman for AOR rock legends Styx, is a pop song craftsman and the downcast air of Brass Box’s music seems to be attempt to fit a square peg inside of a round hole, but Brass Box succeed wildly by mixing their approach with just the right amount of deference to the tradition inhabited by the original. It makes for a stirring listen. The song runs nearly four and a half minutes long and there isn’t a wasted second to be heard during its entire run.
Guitarist Matt Bennett and drummer Pablo Amador are the song’s musical lynchpins. Amador, in particular, keeps things fresh and percolating by confidently guiding the song through a few hairy tempo changes without ever losing the timing for even a millisecond and Bennett’s guitar sound drifts from evocative textures to straight forward melodic playing that gives clarity to an oftentimes dreamy treatment.
The light presence of electronica in the song adds more color than a definite melodic element and the rhythm section, led by Amador, tethers everything to earth and never lets the song drift off course. They pack a remarkable amount of musical entertainment into the running time and there’s a sense from the beginning that Brass Box entered the recording studio knowing exactly what they wanted to do from the outset. Their confidence comes through in every passage.
Brass Box Keeps Exploring Their Sound
Some of the song’s success can be laid at the feet of the band’s willingness to broaden their sound enough that it remains faithful, in its own fashion, to Gowan’s original. The production is an important part of that as well. “Moonlight Desires” certainly invokes some suggestive atmospherics and the sound is enveloped in inviting warmth. Vocalist Ammo Bankoff, a veteran presence on the Los Angeles music scene, keeps the song true to the band’s Goth/shoegaze ethos and proves to be a good fit for its pop leanings without ever altogether embracing them.
Brass Box hasn’t been working as a unit for all that long, but they quickly have established a reputation as one of the most promising acts in this style to have emerged in quite some time and definitely deserve mention as one of the leading creative lights of Los Angeles’ indie music scene. “Moonlight Desires” will appeal to genre purists and casual fans alike with a minimal amount of effort. The video clip debuting with its release underscores the song’s effectiveness and provides considered imagery that fits imagery nicely.
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– review by Mindy McCall