Dead Moon - Defiance
1990's Defiance found Dead Moon digging just a bit deeper into the blues, while still laying out their trademark blend of garage rock, proto-punk, and hard rock. Kicking off the set with a fierce cover of Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues," Dead Moon offer up a handful of songs that are stark and dramatic even by their standards, such as the slow, menacing "Dagger Moon" and the sorrowful "I'm Out Nine," and if these songs aren't built around standard 12-bar structures, their downbeat tone and elemental structure certainly tie them in with the blues. Elsewhere, Toody Cole gets one of her best vocal features with the bitter tale of armed revolt "Johnny's Got a Gun," and "Crystal Is Falling," "Walking on My Grave," and "Kicked Out, Kicked In" are great rock & roll songs by anyone's standards, driven by Fred Cole's wiry vocals and rugged guitar work, Toody's solid, full-bodied bass work, and Andrew Loomis' relentless percussive attack. Once Dead Moon fell into a groove with their second album, Unknown Passage, they didn't change much, but in the grand tradition of the Ramones, this was a band that didn't have to reinvent themselves every few years in order to remain exciting; Dead Moon knew how to keep their music powerful and effective by sticking to the basics and always playing like their lives depended on it, and Defiance shows that method never failed them. From opening with a venerable rock and blues standard to recording and mastering this album in time-tested mono, Dead Moon were a band that had a soft spot for tradition, but when they were done fusing it to their own musical outlook, they came up with something that sounded like no one else, and Defiance is a typically great, edgy offering from a timeless rock band.