Stealing the Moon
Analog Terror Music
Review by Kent Manthie
Back in 2004 the husband and wife duo of guitarist Tony Hamera and singer Kate Hinote began their musical odyssey: the Detroit-based couple began back then, while Tony was working as an engineer and a session musician at local studios. Mrs. Hamera, aka Kate Hinote, an apt surname for a chanteuse with a fabulous voice, was an emerging singer just waiting to burst on the scene. The two first appeared together in a short-lived act called Ether Aura, a nice band name, to be sure. Kate showed her stuff in Ether Aura, making known her innate singing talent, while complementing her beloved Tony, on the guitar. Ether Aura, independently, released two albums between 2005-’07, a time during which they paid their dues, music-wise and got some experience.
Fast-forward to 2008 when the couple would take bigger steps and find some talent to fill in the gaps that, when filled, made up what is now The Blueflowers. The maiden voyage of The Blueflowers included drummer Marvin Shaouni, bassist Erica Stephens as well as acoustic guitarist David Johnson. Together, this lineup of The Blueflowers released their debut Watercolor Ghost Town in 2009. This album was a colorful collage that mixed so-called “alt.-country”, (think: Steve Earle, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, etc.), gothic Americana, psychedelia as well as indie pop. In reviewing Watercolor Ghost Town, the Metro Detroit Times wrote: “Watercolor Ghost Town is a genuinely beautiful and touching piece of work, from the opening title track to the melancholy “Helpless and Hopeless” album closer. Hinote’s voice remains note perfect and goose bump-inducing throughout; the musicianship is finely executed and lovingly arranged.
In 2010, The Blueflowers’ lineup was changed a bit and before they released their sophomore effort, they took on new drummer, Jim Faulkner as well as keyboardist and backup singer Erin Williams. With this new lineup, The Blueflowers put out their follow-up to Watercolor Ghost Town, 2011’s In Line With the Broken-Hearted. Just like their debut, it was independently released and produced by guitarist/songwriter Tony Hamera. Also – In Line With the Broken-Hearted was named “Best Indie Release of 2011” by the aforementioned Metro Detroit Press.
Finally we come to the album at hand, Stealing the Moon, which came out last summer. Hamera has cited some classic influences such as Roy Orbison, The Zombies and The Walker Brothers, out of which the fabulous Scott Walker emerged and who continues to make hauntingly beautiful music today. Besides these older influences, Hamer also points out that he is inspired by Mazzy Star, Neko Case, as well as the legendary crooner, Nick Cave – in an interesting comparison he says: “Think Phil Spector meets David Lynch” – now a combination like is very enticing indeed, especially being big fans of both. Not everyone may know this, but Lynch isn’t just a genius, iconoclastic filmmaker, but he is also a songwriter and musician, himself, having, along with his film scorer, Angelo Badalamenti, written the lyrics (Badalamenti wrote the music) for the heavenly voiced Julee Cruise’s Into the Night, which features what was used as the theme for the amazing Twin Peaks TV show, which was unbelievably original and couldn’t have been done by anyone else (the only problem Twin Peaks suffered was, after the Laura Palmer murder was solved, in its very Lynchian way, the show kept going, but without the original plotline to follow, the show sort of went astray, which is what doomed it, not that it was too “hip” for TV audiences).
Some songs I feel compelled to mention here include “Over You”, a plaintive, swinging, country-tinged song that feels like a Gothic Cathedral. Not unlike Mazzy Star, for sure; one of the best tunes on the album. Simple yet complex. “The Plan” has a Southwestern US-feel to it. This is one of the David Lynch moments: it could be used as a song during an important traveling sequence in a film or, as the song a band might be playing in a bar, in the background, while the characters interact. This has a slow, creeping, cold romantic quality to it. A surf guitar solos on top of a “Southern drawl” sound underneath. Kate Hinote definitely has a powerful voice and uses it well. There’s also the album opener, “My Gun”, a melancholy look back at what was a great relationship but has now run its course and its time for the principals to each get into their own light. Listening to these songs, I can easily see where the David Lynch notions come from. The music is very evocative of the picturesque. If you are fans of any of the above mentioned artists or bands, you will appreciate The Blueflowers for sure.
Since it’s been about a year now (I only received this CD a month or so ago, so, go figure…) since Stealing the Moon came out, I hope there is another CD in the offing by these guys. They would be best heard and seen at a medium-sized, dark, smoky but surreal club – maybe on the outskirts of town for added eeriness! At any rate – enjoy this fabulous album. -KM.