*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state. This month’s state is Wisconsin.*
Moon Rats was formed in 2016 by members of Calliope and Sonic J. The hard hitting 5 piece is dedicated to psychedelic stoner rock that is out of this world. The band is comprised of Al Kraemer on vocals and guitar,
Victor Buell laying down riffs on lead guitar, Brendt Dondero behind the kit on drums, Myles Coyne on bass, and
Nathan Toth on organ. The bands first release came in the form of a single back in May of 2017 with the track “Motor Sword”. The track would also appear on the bands debut full length ‘Highway Lord’ which released on June 23rd 2017. The album was recorded in the remote northern woods of Wisconsin. It was written, produced and recorded by the band and mastered by Justin Perkins at The Mystery Room. The album was released on cassette via Gloss Records, however the band is an independent/unsigned band. ‘Highway Lord’ is by far one of the best debut albums I have heard in years. To think this band formed and recorded this album themselves within a year is an astounding feat that deserves attention. I believe their ability to record on their own and the added ambiance that recording in the remote Wisconsin woods helps the chemistry of the band and keeps their sound unique with no outside influence. Moon Rats have also proved they aren’t lazy and have already released a new single since their debut. The track ‘Ride Or Die’ released in February of this year and claims to be the first glimpse at Moon Rats’ second installment into the Highway Lord mythology, ‘Lonestar.’
If you start listening through the bands discography with their debut single ‘Motor Sword’ you will hear first a raw fuzzy riff that welcomes you into the world of the Moon Rats. Quickly a groove builds and the remaining instruments intertwine like a mass of serpents coiling together. Al Kraemer soothing voice wails over the hard hitting riffs and cymbal crashes. The song flows like the ocean with waves of change in the music and then smooth sailing. Moving on to the bands debut full length we are given a lot more to chew on with around 30 minutes worth of psychedelic stoner rock with an underlying doom feel. Opener “Become The Smoke” show off the bands more upbeat style while keeping with Kraemer’s soothing and clean soaring vocal tone. “Heroic Dose” keeps us in the same realm as the previous songs but there is a grit to this song that is absent on the other tracks that allows it to stand out. “Overdose” likely carries the weight as the heaviest track on the album with these hard hitting riffs led by Victor Buell and these perfectly timed cymbal crashes by Brendt Dondero. The reverb on the track is like pure ecstasy. The track is composed in a way that just when you think its coming to an end it jumps another gear and chugs on and then it winds back down again to do it all over again. Their newest single “Ride Or Die” shows the band can put their foot to the floor and break the speed limit. Ironically the word “Ride” in the title is perfect because this is a song you want to drive to on an open road, but beware it will make you want to drive fast. With the racing of the guitars and the pace of the percussion its the groove implemented by Myles Coyne on bass that truly gives this song is groove and flow. With the two singles book ending their debut album this Moon Rats show they are well rounded and hungry to produce content that begs to be heard.
There are moments in life when you stumble across a band and they are just doing everything right from the get go that makes you feel empowered you’ve found them. I’m having that moment with Moon Rats, if their singles and debut is any sign these guys will be pumping out a lot more tunes that need to be heard by the masses. So remember the name, tell a friend and pick up their albums, you won’t be disappointed.