“The Moonrunners bring a dynamic and engaging live show,” and “the Moonrunners are a highly combustible band from Minneapolis,” according to press materials supporting the band’s CD debut Angelic Hellions. Don’t believe it. They are reasonably capable musicians—Mike Irwin on drums, Jhaan Kay on guitar, harmonica, and bass; Andrew Lake on bass and guitar; John Radtke on vocals, guitar, and keys—backing pedestrian vocalist and pretentious lyricist Eleck. Nothing more remarkable than that.
Song after song begins with a gimmicky, meant-to-be-so-cool sound effect, the corniest being a half-baked homage to Roger Hill posturing prophetic as Cyrus in that beloved old classic B-flick The Warriors. It might not be hard to overlook the self-indulgence, except the music is mediocre. It’s cluttered, over-active, ultimately stillborn bluesy rock fronted by forced, cloying attempts at sounding soulful. Sort of like Arthur Lee toward the end of Love and on his disastrous solo album Vindicator.
Sample the painfully sophomoric, cringe-inducing words to “Give It To You”: “Now if I don’t have what you request/ Believe me darlin’ I will do my best/ If it’s love that you desire/ I guarantee my love won’t expire/ I would love to hold your hand/ And we can walk alone barefoot in the sand.” From “Everything We See”: “We’ve all got our cross to bear/ Maybe my misery just needs some more company/ We find the good but the bad we seek/ We’re all in this together y’all on this we should agree/ I wish I could walk a mile in your pain/ See what’s going on inside your brain/ Maybe we can help one another/ So that we can all be free/ Start to learn and love everything we see.” No, thank you.
The band bio concludes, “With over 75 shows under their belt, the Moonrunners are poised to make their mark on the Twin Cities music scene and beyond or die trying.” That quality of hype pretty much characterizes the album, leaning heavily on bombast and very little on simply stating the case. Who knows whether Moonrunners and their slick bill of goods Angelic Hellions actually will impact the music scene. Much stranger things have been known to happen than the superior marketing of an inferior product. I do not advise, however, standing on one foot and holding your breath until this particular turn of events comes to pass. You could be in for a long wait.