The Moondoggies Fuel a Righteous Flame with “Soviet Barn Fire” (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
photo by Jason Neuerburg

There’s something to be said for letting things go. There’s also something to be said for holding them close, even if you don’t know what to do with them. Such is the case with The Moondoggies’ latest single, “Soviet Barn Fire,” from their upcoming album A Love Sleeps Deep – out April 13 via Hardly Art. The song has been gestating within the Seattle alt-country outfit for several years, as Kevin Murphy tells KEXP in a statement over email. The swampy dirge existed solely asn instrumental for the band to jam on in their practice space before it caught the ear of producer Erik Blood, who encouraged the band to finish the track. Until that point, Murphy had never sung over the music.

Murphy ended up pulling verses from another song he was writing about a slumlord, based off his own recent experiences finding himself in a legal battle with landlords who misrepresented the condition of their rental home to Murphy, his girlfriend, and their six month old daughter – a home filled with mold and urine soaked carpet. Ultimately Murphy and his family were seen in the right by the court, but the emotions swirling around the song still stuck with Murphy as he saw changes happening in his own country. Murphy adds:

“The lyrics came back to me after Trump won the election. I saw many parallels between the two con men, and Trump and his father as it happens were/are also slumlords. They talk and manipulate their way out of trouble. The A Tribe Called Quest song "We The People" was my favorite song that year, and inspired a very conscious decision to write about my feelings about the world/country my daughters are now growing up in.

Trump is a divisive fraud (duh), a demagogue, and a reflection of our country's darkest impulses. We live in a time that needs allies speaking up for the downtrodden and listening to them and their experiences. We need to raise them up so we can all sit at the table and be represented and heard. It's coming from a place of love, ultimately. I was speaking for my daughters but also for my hope that we are better than this.”

While the song and the lyrics were written at different times, the energy emitted from each part fuels the other. Murphy’s righteous anger in the drawl of his voice rumbles over the sizzling guitars and humid stomps of the drums. The melody comes through like a beam of light through the smoke, a guiding light in the fraught flurry of the song. Feverish lead guitar lines mangle themselves in the mix, contorting against the elegant harmonies. It’s some of the most intense work the band has done, turning a slow burning instrumental into an anthem of defiance against crooked oppressors. Stream the track below.

You can catch The Moondoggies live at The Neptune on April 13. Revisit their 2013 in-studio below.

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