Lee Corey Oswald - Moon Songs (Cover Artwork)

Lee Corey Oswald

Moon Songs (2011)

Useless State

I found myself hungover, posting on Navel Gazing, feeling pretty content with my life for the first time in a while and listening to Moon Songs while waiting for Dexter to air. Somehow that was just the right combination to get me to actually review this album.

Firstly, I think you Punknewsies need some catching up. Lee Corey Oswald is not the same two-man band that released the acoustic Sun Songs EP. According to the liner notes, Lee plays guitar, keyboard and sings; Dan plays bass and mandolin; Corey plays drums, guitar, percussion and sings; Taylor plays banjo and sings; and Danielle (of the Taxpayers) did guest vocals on two songs.

Moon Songs is 14 tracks and a bit over 40 minutes and happens to be their first full-length release. The album is half electric (the first half) and half acoustic, with one "keyboard song" in the middle--or, technically, at the end of the first half. The album starts off with "Well, I Wanna Die." "Die" begins quietly before Dan and Corey join in and the song grows and gets louder. Lee's singing eventually turns to shouting and Danielle's vocals are spread throughout the song. Track three sounds to be a re-recording of "Waltzes with Wolves." "Waltzes" contains some of the most relatable lyrics from the band yet, lines like "I complain about the world and I wish I did more to make it better." Soon after "This is Not a Bereavement Song" showcases the band playing quiet, catchy, and loud and fast.

Two songs later comes "Dream Song" and with it, the album transitions from punk rock to a keyboard without drawing attention to the musical shift. The lyrics are delivered a little differently, but are just as relatable. As "Dream Song" ends with the lines "Sleep it off / Stomach sinking / No more drinking after 2 a.m. / Sleep it off / Temples throbbing / No more sobbing after 3 a.m.", the band transitions (back) to acoustic music with "Gloria." It's a poppy song and is followed by the much softer "In-Sure-Ance" before a Tigers Jaw cover of "Neighbors"--which seems to be, in part, a nod back to Tigers Jaw for covering Lee Corey Oswald's "You're the Soul" (from Sun Songs) on an acoustic seven-inch. Taylor's accompanying vocals throughout the acoustic half bring just the right touch to each song and add further emotion.

The acoustic track "Working Title" showcases the melancholy of many of the lyrics more clearly. The album ends with the acronym-titled "S.C.R.Z." and while I initially wasn't as much of a fan of it as other songs on the album, it has grown to be one of my favorite songs--both somehow depressing and spirit-raising. With the lyrics "But if you stay in your lane and yield to what others say / a 10 car pile-up will still come someday" followed by "It really doesn't matter what they say / So brush them off / You don't have to prove to me that you're tough / It shows in not how you hate but in how much you love" the song somehow summarizes my feelings of discontentment with life and the hope I need and the feeling of savoring every day we have left alive.

I can't imagine why fans of orgcore bands wouldn't like this album. It is equal parts Menzingers and Tigers Jaw. The lyrics are honest and delivered with the right emotion for each song. The music is catchy, energetic, danceable and occasionally sad enough for whatever it needs to be. With each listen, I like it more and more. Whether or not this album gets Oswald and co. the recognition they deserve, "to me this is still fucking gold."

They're currently on tour, but the album should be available for streaming here. There's no vinyl, only CDs and tapes (with downloads). They definitely put effort and lovin' into the packaging.