The Lunar Laugh – It’s Okay
Vodka has never been a huge fan of live albums. Give me a good studio recording any day, and I tend to appreciate it more. That said, The Lunar Laugh’ soon-to-be-released Nighthawks! LP is thoughtfully curated, and carefully engineered, and mixed to get that live feel without an abundance of crowd noises. The production is bright and crisp, and the music is expertly played and sung, including wonderful three-part harmonies. What more could you want?
Nighthawks! is mostly a collection of back-catalog tunes gathered from very good (see above) live recordings. In 2020, as the pandemic put an end to touring for the band, they released It’s Okay (seen/heard here) as a way of passing on good vibrations to their fans:
“So I say
it’s okay to have a heartbreak
it’s okay if you don’t know what you’re thinking of
trust me I can relate
it’s okay if you’re questioning
everything that you used to be
No, you are not your past
You’re here at last
and you’re who you’re supposed to be
The message is that there are a lot of things that upend our lives. Certainly, the pandemic has been one of those things. In the end, though, you will get through it. It’s okay, as the lyrics say, to feel like you do, but just remember you aren’t in this alone. The music emphasizes this positive outlook, pushing that fun, free, revelatory feeling. It’s Okay, as well as the lead-off track, I Wanna Know, are songs that were part of the band’s studio sessions that created the LP, Goodnight Noises Everywhere (June 2019). They didn’t quite fit into that LP, but I’m glad they make an appearance here.
So what else can you expect from the LP? Well a lot, actually. The previously mentioned I Wanna Know is a mid-tempo rocker with a jangle rock feel that would have been comfortably played on the radio two to three decades ago. Because the band is so playful, it does not sound dated at all, but fresh like a little time machine bubble updated just for you. On The Road, is a song that dates back to the band’s 2015 LP, Apollo. It is always included in the band’s setlist, because, as Jared Lekites tells it:
“It works so well in a live setting and this line always rings true:
playing my songs, making bank, but every dollar winds up in the gas tank”
By The Light Of The Living Room, from Goodnight Noises Everywhere, seeks to channel the influences of Tom Petty and Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens). Both artists had recently passed away before the song was written. It is a reverent re-imagining of both artists’ styles. It might be Vodka’s favorite song on this collection, but there is a lot to love everywhere here. Listening to this song will have you singing it aloud in no time!
Living Room is followed by Winsome from Apollo and Living a Lie from Mama’s Boy (February 2017), and the Campbell Young penned and sung Alive, originally from his solo work before he joined the band. It should be noted that It’s Okay is also written and sung by Campbell. Jared Lekites is definitely the lead writer here, with 9 of the 18 tracks written solely by him, and with a hand in four additional tracks. Lekites’ penned Tell Me A Story, from Goodnight Noises Everywhere, is his version of what I would call the state of the music business. Today’s next “hit” is more about feelings, rather than a message, and Lekites longs for that missing element:
“we gotta keep movin’ on
can’t concern ourselves with yesterday
said it’s alright and day turns to night anyway
is there somewhere that I belong?
another place where I can sing my songs again
when nobody’s listening
hey! tell me a story
of seven maids and cabbages and kings
and help me take my mind of some things
hey! tell me a story
that makes me wonder where the treasure’s hid
the kind of story I heard when I was a kid“
Jared, Vodka is with you there 100%.
There is original material galore here, but The Lunar Laugh almost always includes a few covers in their live sets. True to that live set format, the band does not disappoint, by including Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man, and Death Cab For Cutie’s (Ben Gibbard penned) Soul Meets Body with guest vocals provided by Chase Kerby (an Oklahoma City The Voice contestant) here. This latter track reminds me so much of songs written and performed by The Bats. Both tracks work very well within the band’s style.
The three primary band members are Jared Lekites (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica, percussion), Campbell Young (electric guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals), and Connor Anderson (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, percussion). Additional musicians included here are Chris Anderson (keyboards), Peter Collins (keyboards, melodica), Jimmy Jackson (drums, percussion), Triston Lightner (bass, vocals), Derek Moore (bass), Logan Morris (percussion), Levi Sherman (drums, percussion, vocals), and John Stendel (bass). There were also special appearances by Chase Kerby (vocals, acoustic guitar on “Soul Meets Body”), Kyle Reid (pedal steel guitar), Lucas Ross (banjo on “Nighthawks and Mona Lisa”) and Taylor Johnson (bass, keyboards, guitars on “I Wanna Know” and “It’s Okay”). You can find more information on the band, by heading up to their very complete website, which includes all of the purchase, streaming, and social links that you need. You can also purchase Nighthawks! from The Lunar Laugh’s label page at Big Stir Records.
As a footnote, there is one track that The Lunar Laugh can’t get away without playing in any live set, and so they include it towards the end. That track is Work In Progress (track 18 here), from Mama’s Boy. A great way to end this phenomenal set of music!
Nighthawks! releases in just two days and you can pre-order right now. Head over to Big Stir Records and reserve your copy! You can find most of the band’s music right there, but feel free to visit The Lunar Laugh’ bandcamp.com site as well.
Note: Unfortunately, we are still dealing with Covid 19. The variants are making a comeback, which means that the livelihoods of artists like The Lunar Laugh and many others are still threatened. If your situation allows it, consider purchasing more in these tough times. Please, if you are physically able to do so, get the vaccine! –Vodka