As Reno’s most engaging rock and roll outfit for the last five or so years, Moondog Matinee has made great strides as performers and songwriters.
Its list of accomplishments include playing the inaugural Life Is Beautiful festival and gaining a stout following on the West Coast. However, no tick mark on the metaphorical door jam of bandom can indicate just how striking its sophomore album “Carry Me, Rosie” really is.
Moondog Matinee’s swaggering confidence and concentrated nods to classic-rock heavyweights scream through this release with a tenacity akin to its live performances.
The band’s first album, “Vacancy At The Wonder Lodge,” was released in February 2011, and while it has the building blocks of Moondog’s sound — Barnato’s then-developing wail, the dual guitar attack — it lacked the grit and cohesion that “Rosie” has in spades.
The album’s list of highlights are just about as long as the release itself.
“Let’s keep this short and simple,” Barnato growls at the beginning of “Put Me Right,” and that’s exactly what the band does. Clocking in at just under four minutes, this is the most fully developed yet succinct song on the album. Featuring a rich sonic palette that highlights horns and backing vocals, “Put Me Right” brings to mind “Exile On Main St.”-era Stones in the best of ways.
The members of Moondog are in their collective wheelhouse on grinding, not-quite-up-tempo blues stompers like “Gold,” and “Last Night The Devil Learned My Name.” Pair those with the rompingly fun “Wild Ways” and dirty funk of “Ghost Dime” and it becomes clear that this album has more absolute standouts than not. Rhythmically, bassist Adam Carpenter and drummer Ben Ingle do the bulk of the heavy lifting, leaving one or both guitarists — Steve Widmer and Drea Ballard — to sing between Barnato’s lyrics, filling space and adding texture.
One of the album’s strongest suits is in the way its self-assured, almost cocky attitude covers up for the very few shortcomings. Clumsy arrangements become middle fingers to the expected, and redundant guitar solos become testaments to the band’s raucous live shows. The growth shown by the musicians with their release of “Carry Me, Rosie” is something to be celebrated, and celebrate they will Friday, Nov. 6, in Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe.