It’s immediately important to note that the subtitle to Ginger Moon’s Celebrity Volunteers is “(or Bill Clinton, Pete Townshend, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Madonna, and Tom Hanks Are Not Our Friends But Wished They Were)”. This attempt to be cute is a good insight to this band’s state of mind. The press material makes it known that they recorded this album at the same studio that both Nine Days and Marcy Playground have recorded at, as if this is some sort of stunning recommendation for the band. It’s hard to say who Ginger Moon are trying to impress, but really, while they’re cocky, they’re just not that interesting.
As a sort of pumped-up version of one of the common generic white bands out today (Matchbox Twenty, the aforementioned Nine Days, Goo Goo Dolls—take your pick), Ginger Moon sounds like a heavy metal band playing at sensitivity, with lead singer John Sullivan half-screaming these songs. There’s no musical subtlety, and the band relies on clumsy percussion and noisy guitars when they play. The attempt to slow things down a bit on “New York Day” comes across sounding like a joke song, over-thought and overdone in every moment, from the “oooh oooh"s during the bridge to the blatantly acoustic guitars.
Not surprisingly, Ginger Moon is a mess lyrically, full of repressed testosterone-driven misdirected anger. On the adolescent “Rather Be”, Sullivan sings “Who cares about your perfect life, it ain’t that great /That boring routine suburban lifestyle’s one I hate” without bothering to bring any insight to the lines. It’s obvious he’s mad, but it’s unclear who he’s directing lines like these to, besides just life in general. Even the promising Pearl Jam-esque “Mark My Words” is marred by the silly chorus with lines like “bitter, artsy, tainted words” and “pointed, angry, tainted words.” Sullivan’s lyrics are none of the things he sings about in this song.
Ginger Moon does make a stab at diversity, though, also including the Brit-pop inspired “Of Gentle Heart” and the dramatic piano-based “I Want My Life” but these songs feel too unpolished and are almost more distracting than the other songs on Celebrity Volunteers. Although hearing what else this band can do is somewhat intriguing, they don’t seem to be good at any of it.
Ginger Moon overstated things by saying the celebrities in the subtitle wanted to be their friends, however jokingly they meant it. After listening to Celebrity Volunteers, even you aren’t going to want to be friends with this band.
// Notes from the Road
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