Look up, here comes a ray of sunshine,â€ goes the opening line of â€œRay,â€ the first song on this impressive release by Indianapolis-based Mars or the Moon. Guitars chime and sheen and bask in tremolo, drums crack crisply and lead singer Lani Williamsâ€™ honey-spun vocals shine through the mix. Augmented by some top-tier studio musicians, the combo of Williams (who also plays guitar), multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Joe Hart and Lenen Nicola (percussion and â€œshaky toysâ€) bring a watertight yet buoyant feel to all the tracks. â€œPeaceâ€ manages to carry a driving momentum while maintaining a delicate sense of introspection, and the nuanced use of layered acoustic and electric guitars â€“ plus a well-placed rhythm section â€“ keeps the song floating along nicely despite its Bonnie Raitt-meets-Freddie Mercury wrap-up. These guys also used their fortuitous proximity to John Mellencamp to procure his bassist and drummer for this album? Nice help if you can get it.
Even piling on a layer of fuzz guitar and (nearly) punk-inflected vocals from Hart on â€œLittle Stewâ€ canâ€™t derail the sugariness inherent in Mars or the Moonâ€™s sound, nor can the driving rock anthemics on â€œShanti Shakti,â€ which is sure to bring the folks to their feet during live sets. Hearkening back to some of the more rocking Lilith Fair moments, â€œThe Price of Loveâ€ percolates with pummeling drums, heavy strumming and passionate vocals from Williams, but the real strength of this band seems to show itself when they pull back a bit. The biggest payoffs on this great-sounding album come amidst moodier numbers such as the Freedy Johnston-tinged â€œDisgrace,â€ which provides a songwriting clinic on how to make a great chorus. The theremin-touched, push-pull blues/folk of â€œHoneywineâ€ features impassioned yet resigned vocals from Hart. Folk-tinged, consistent and professionally done from the first note to the artwork, The Price of Love is definitely worth, um, its price. Find more info at marsorthemoon.com or myspace.com/marsorthemoon.
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July 21 • Sweetwater Performace Pavilion