West Coast Sick Line
Hope You All Have Nightmares, Except Kirsty
When German Shepherd label co-conspirator Eon Morse ventured that the musical genius behind West Coast Sick Line – one Dusty Moonan – was from Colwyn Bay on a recent radio interview, there was a palpable sense of incredulity from the host about Mr Moonan’s place of residence. As if by some strange twist of fate or geographical accident that Dusty’s failure to live in Venice Beach or Upper Darby, Philadelphia, somehow diminished his capabilities, coolness or coherence. Having visited the Bay on more than one occasion, and to be more accurate it’s sub-hamlet of Rhos On Sea, I can attest to the fact that it is indeed a funky and fab place. I mean if the beatle browed brothers of bombast can come from Burnage why can’t Dusters leap forward from the windswept sand dunes of the North Wales coast?
That’s by the by of course and I’m more concerned to advise you of the genius of this album.
It first came out in 2012, and got heavy airplay on Salford City Radio, and other places but generally went un-regarded by the great unwashed out there. The German Shepherd team have made it one of their key objectives to ensure that there is wider exposure to Mr Moonan’s body of work and will be releasing the second album “Our Name On The Door”, and a brand new album in due course.
However let’s concentrate on this one.
Of the album Dusty says:
The overriding theme of ‘Kirsty’ was a pretty bleak one. A relationship had ended acrimoniously and I found myself staying in different places without settling or feeling at home in any. I didn’t want the album to be self indulgent, or even about me per se, but more a collection of tales that all end badly.
I had always coupled rather dark lyrics with upbeat melodies. I had been inactive for nearly five years and I was fascinated to know where I was at as a writer after such a long period. I had recorded ‘No Senor, lo siento’ as a test to see if I could get to grips with the software and without any idea of making an album at that point.
The bass line for what would be ‘No wife, no kids’ had been whirling around my head all week until in a fit of anger I scribbled the words down after a particularly bad day at work. I knew then I had a solid theme for an album and to compound that, the title popped in there too. I had used ‘Hope you all have nightmares, except Kirsty’ as a drunken status on Facebook in reference to a former work colleague I used to find intimidating.
I now had a clear direction and real goal.
In respect of the Moonan song-writing output comparisons have been made with Jeff Lynne, and, Todd Rundgren. These are accurate. Moonan has the ability to write short, pithy, melodic, and memorable tunes. Add to that a sense of mischief, lyrics that encompass a particularly bitter view of humanity (at times), and, a unique vocal style and you have, to all intents and purposes, a modern equivalent of the work of Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme at their very best. But Moonan adds a punk and post-punk edge to his music which takes it beyond pure pop and to darker left field place.
From the outset it’s clear that brash rhythm, loud guitars and visceral synths are being used to grab the listeners attention and keep it. There are nine excellent songs here – lyrically strong and melodically & stylistically varied. The highlight is the brittle and fractured “This Ain’t London” a beautifully rich sound scape which holds a vehement attack on an internet correspondent – and this is a clear indicator of Moonan’s guile – he entrances you with an exquisite tuneful vocal that belies the lyrical content. Also notable is the very catchy “Vunt” which features other key WCSL member Stacey Anne Bates on vocals. Stacey’s role in the band grows over the three album run from the band and she has an excellent vocal style which adds a touch of magic to the music. There are songs here that stay in your head for days – the love song “Callie”, the angry “Nobody’s Type” and scabrous and short closer “Dip Your Toe In The Real World, Andy”. They are all great.
The album is available as Pay What You Want on German Shepherd from 24th March 2014 via this link.
I encourage you to Dip Your Toe In The Real World of West Coast Sick Line.