Review: The Lunar Effect ‘Sounds Of Green And Blue’

It’s not easy being a Shaman scribe. As well as the challenging entrance exams, robust scribe CPD requirements and having to dust Shaman Towers from time to time, you need to have credentials – you know, being able to say that you saw a band play in a small basement in Cleethorpes before they were famous or something similar.

The Lunar Effect 'Sounds Of Green And Blue' Artwork
The Lunar Effect ‘Sounds Of Green And Blue’ Artwork

My annual scribe appraisal concluded that I don’t do that nearly often enough, so today I’m going to bask in the fact that I was actually on The Lunar Effect train really early. Not a literal train obviously, I mean that I got their first Strange Lands EP when someone else was still doing the vocals (I have a feeling it was guitarist Jon Jefford, but it’s not mentioned in the liner notes and all trace of it seems to have been expunged from the interweb). And I’m pretty sure I found out that someone in the band plays in a Presidents Of The USA covers band, although it’s possible I hallucinated that bit.

Anyway, The Lunar Effect, a four-piece spread across Essex and Hertfordshire, have always been an interesting proposition. Their debut EP, which they subsequently re-recorded and re-released in 2017 with re-done vocals when they hired Josh Neuwford as a, um, vocalist was a gnarly slab of grungey stoner rock. Their 2019 debut album, Calm Before The Calm, saw the band moving into more bluesy, vintage-flavoured territory and Sounds Of Blue And Green sees them stretching out even further.

For a change I’m going to do this thematically, so let’s start with the heavier, stoner rock tracks. Album opener Ocean Queen ticks all the boxes you want to be ticked for old-school stoner rock – big fuzzy riffs and mid-paced grooves, all topped off with Neuwford’s soaring vocals. A really quality tune and reassuringly heavy. It’s immediately followed by Flowers For Teeth, which served as a single before the album came out. You can see why the band chose it – it’s direct and to the point, driven by a familiar, but still awesome, riff and with a memorable chorus.

After the opening salvo, I was expecting more stoner fare (which would have been fine by me) but the album wanders off down some different channels which we’ll look at below. The only other track I’d be remiss to point out here is I Can’t Say, which for some reason always makes me think of Monster Magnet. Perhaps it’s the quiet-verse-big-chorus structure or the welcome heavy rock bombast, but in either case, it’s a cracking tune that really lifts the second half of the record.

big fuzzy riffs and mid-paced grooves, all topped off with Neuwford’s soaring vocals…

I think sub-headings are probably frowned upon in album reviews, so you’re just going to have to remember that this paragraph and the next are about tunes that sound like Graveyard without any further visual cues. First up we have In Grey, which has all the hallmarks of one of the Swedes’ classic slow burners. That’s not intended as a criticism either – it’s a brilliant tune and The Lunar Effect are far from simple copyists. Perhaps it’s just that Graveyard nailed that ‘70s blues-rock ballad so well that other tunes drawing from the same sources of inspiration remind me of them? In any event, it’s another great vocal performance from Neuwford and I love the guitar solo on this one as well.

Album closer On the Story Goes is another track that I would definitely tag as reminiscent of Graveyard, with an added dollop of heavy on the chorus sections. Again, it’s a bit unfair to describe a song this good as sounding like Graveyard – it’s a sprawling epic that ends the album on a genuine high.

Finally, we get to some tracks that I’m going to have to tag as ‘classic rock’ which appears several times in the press blurb. Now, when I read those two words it tends to conjure images of the very cheesiest moments of ‘70s and ‘80s rock, repackaged in a semi-ironic way. Happily, that’s not the case here, I’d say it’s the band just focusing on the songs and not giving a crap about genre expectations, just like the good ol’ days.

Both Middle Of The End and Fear Before The Fall replace the guitar with piano for large sections providing an interesting change of pace. The latter is probably my favourite track from the album and is the tune I regularly find lodged in my head after listening. Starting with a piano riff that could be the beginning of a Bond theme, it builds in intensity into something resembling a power ballad, but really good. Who’d have thunk?

Sounds Of Blue And Green is a quality record that’s hard to put a tag on. It’s timeless and vintage, without being self-consciously retro. It’s not the heaviest or most extreme record you are going to hear all year and it’s entirely lacking anything occult or sci-fi related. It is, however, a collection of cohesive songs that together make a brilliant album.

Label: Svart Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Liam Blanc