Too Bad Eugene: Moonlighting (Tooth and Nail)

Nigh sings with such certain uncertainty that you know he’ll find what he seeks.

I picked up this disc for the band name alone—who could resist?—and I wasn’t disappointed. Moonlighting is the 10-song Tooth and Nail debut by a trio from California. The songs are solid, edgy, alt-rock gems; lead singer (as well as bassist) Adam Nigh has a strong and interesting voice. Also in the band are Sammy Nigh on drums and Andy Snyder on guitar and backing vocals.

Kicking off the disc is “Premodern Donna,” a rocking song about leaving home. Nigh sings with such certain uncertainty that you know he’ll find what he seeks: “Oh, what d’you really know/And what have you been told/But sing it again, oh/Let’s travel off the road/New unknown/It’s time to grow.” Next up is “Charismata” which gives us further food for thought: “…[I]t’s been so long since I became a member of a people with no sight despite the sun.” Though it features some familiar guitar licks, it’s still a pleasingly curious song.

“All at Once” is a live track (I never quite understood the inclusion of a live track in the midst of a studio album—but then, no one asked me) about a breakup over the pursuit of dreams. It’s easy to sing along, even with such tongue-twisting and thought-provoking lines as “I won’t give up on me to live like you.” Songs such as “Nobody’s Home” and “Morning Song,” while still well done, are more reminiscent of what the kids are listening to these days. “Bad Guy” begins with a catchy guitar intro similar to Queens of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows” but lives up to its promise by delivering a solid rock anthem for unwise attraction. Toe-tappingly catchy, “Theological” gives Nigh a chance to show off his strong voice. Finishing the album, “Soli Deo Gloria” is an homage to (of all things—this is a rock record, after all) the glory of God…and it works.

Too Bad Eugene would fit quite easily into the modern rock radio arena, but the differences between them and countless other bands are clear: their lyrics aren’t inane and repetitious, their lead singer can actually sing, and the instruments are solidly played. Moonlighting promises future glory for this threesome.

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