Review: ‘Weird Moons,’ Jack Name

January 22, 2015
Photo: Jack Name 'Weird Moons' album

Jack Name is a lunatic and his new album "Weird Moons" only reaffirms that statement.

I say that as no backhanded comment; I mean he's a lunatic in the most literal sense possible. The term "lunatic" comes from the Latin word "luna," which means moon. "Lunatic" stems from “the belief that changes of the moon caused intermittent insanity.”  

The force of the moon guides this man day to day, or should I say night to night. For instance, after spacey drone sounds for over half a minute, the opening verse on track four, “Lowly Ants,” goes like this: “I have total control/But the moon has absolute control.”

Jack Name opened the bill at the Gothic Theatre when Thee Oh Sees rolled through Denver last November. Tracks from "Weird Moons" were catchy enough to survive the several-month void until the album dropped. 

One of those tracks is “Running After Ganymede,” which opens with the sound of a howling werewolf. Then, a running synth baseline and drum machine drive the track. Name coos breathy dark lyrics, while Nora Keyes sings softly in between verses.

To add to the whole moon schtick, the titular Ganymede, according to the dictionary, is “one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the seventh closest satellite to the planet and the largest satellite in the solar system with a diameter of 3,268 miles." For reference, our own moon has a diameter of 2,159 miles, and Earth has a diameter of 7,918 miles.

“Werewolf Factory,” the first track, is arguably the best song on the album. The funky bass riff, ambient multidirectional guitar solos and patient drum verse set the tone for the rest of the album. “Under the Weird Moon” amps things up: it’s on this track Name’s vocals gruff up and seem to belong on a grunge track from the '90s.

"Weird Moons" sounds like it was created in a damp basement but recorded in the exosphere. It's a dark album, and for a heavy reason: Name told New York Times Culture Reporter Aly Comingore he was diagnosed with cancer after finishing his 2014 release "Light Show," which was released almost exactly a year ago today. 

“I had it for five years without even knowing. All of that — my diagnosis and treatment — kind of manifested into the werewolves, the bodies changing,” he told the Times. “The fictional aspect of the story lets it be less about me and more about life: How do you live? What do you live for?” 

This explains the dark nature of "Weird Moons" to an extent. Take the opening lyrics to track five, “Waiting For Another Moon”: “I like to die and I like to be reborn/I like to see my body changing forms.”

It also explains Name’s fascination with the moon. It’s an uncontrollable force that works over humanity and that eerily fits what Name is going through personally.

Jack Name's sound seems to come directly from outer space. This album is a continuation of a small theme that started last year—music that is out of this world. It’s an album that would rest easy in the infinite and vast universe. "Weird Moons" is a staple for any fan of the Castle Face Records scene, which is spearheaded by John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees, and especially any fan of White Fence.  

Be sure to catch Jack Name opening up for Ariel Pink at the Bluebird Theater this Valentine's Day. And wear your spacesuits.