While Oceans of the Moon serves as the Rhode Island trio’s self-titled debut album, the members of the trio are far from first-timers. Rising from the experiences and ashes of iconic Providence-based groups like Six Finger Satellite, La Machine, and Made In Mexico, Oceans of the Moon operates as a musical space for DIY veterans Rick Pelletier on guitar, Jon Loper on drums, and Dare Matheson to create swirling, distorted, electronic-infused-psych with strong riffs and grooves. And, releasing on Oh Sees-frontman John Dwyer’s label Castle Face Records, this album is steeped in Rhode Island noise-rock music clout.
Oceans of the Moon is a brief affair, coming in at under 30-minutes with only eight tracks, but the music never feels confined or limited by its short runtime. Taking influences from ’70s psych and funk, blues, and more contemporary noise, Oceans of the Moon succeed in producing an album that feels beyond this world and unique while still grounded enough in recognisable traditions to not leave the listener feeling as though they’ve completely detached from this astral plane.
Opening with “Hope Will Pass”, Oceans of the Moon unflinchingly jump into a static-filled, aggressive psych-rock romp, and they refuse to turn back for the rest of the album. The following track, “Baby Chiffon” bounces with a shoulder-swaying funk groove and whirling electronics and invigorating improvisational guitar parts.
“Sully” sees the band leaning a little more into their electro-punk background as a hard synth line serves as the driver for the track. It feels as though some inspiration was found in the late-00s garage-rock revival — it’s a burning spark of energy that is a definite standout even among a really strong collection. Next, “I’m on a Roll” seems to inverse the formula set forth by the previous song by placing a heavy guitar riff at the centre of the track and allows the electronics to play off of that base layer. Unfortunately, this is one of the songs on the album where the repetitive nature forces a loss of interest towards the back end of the song.
“Borderline” stands out as an interesting piece due to how the band utilises what sounds like a more Eastern tonal palette, re-emphasising the ’70s psych experimentation that permeates throughout the album while also finding, for a moment, a new avenue of expressing it. On “Bill Fill”, the band chooses to especially emphasise the blues roots that influence much of the album, and they finish the album in that manner as well, with “Shazzamatazz” and “Blowin’ My Mind” both including heavy blues-rock elements as well as the other experimental and modern musical cues found elsewhere on the record.
For those listeners who are looking for a rock album that tiptoes into strangeness to fill the final half of their summer, there is very little to dislike about Oceans of the Moon. It’s somewhat odd to think of this album as a true debut — the band, as it is, has evolved from other monikers and former projects in common — but it is also incredibly exciting. Because of the experience of these musicians, and the chemistry they already have as a group, Oceans of the Moon feel new yet already solidified, and are ready to build something grand without the growing pains that affect so many groups starting out.
Ultimately the debut release from Oceans of the Moon is extremely entertaining throughout, and sonically cohesive, but with too little variation in musical approach. However, despite the similar notes being hit throughout the album, and the band’s influences clearly on their sleeves, nothing ever feels overly redundant and the additional inspiration from their electro-punk background breathes new intrigue into the music. Oceans of the Moon is a disorienting and hot experience — an album that plays like a drug-induced trip on an intensely hot day in the middle of the desert, the brevity of which only makes you want to go back for more.