Dwight Twilley: 47 Moons

Jason MacNeil

Long-time under-the-radar rocker returns with a string of sugar-coated pop tunes that make his Beatles-influenced pop come full circle.

Dwight Twilley

47 Moons

Label: Digital Musicworks International
US Release Date: 2005-01-28
UK Release Date: 2005-01-28
Amazon affiliate

I've always thought of Dwight Twilley as being on the same side of Nick Lowe and Todd Rundgren if they were in a fight with the label weasels, the three of them back to back to back and fighting the suits to the death. Both Lowe and Rundgren have been in the industry long enough to know that labels come and go, but if you stay true to your art you'll persevere at worst and at best succeed. Twilley has a new label and released a Christmas album, of all things, this past yuletide season. And now with 47 Moons he has produced yet another album that is far removed from his days with The Dwight Twilley Band chronologically, but the classic '60s Beatles-cum-Byrds pop is still readily audible over these pretty Petty-ish tunes, including the lovely little jewel "Better Watch Out". Crisp and well-polished, the number features a strong rhythm section and with hand claps and horns coloring the infectious little track. There's no reinventing the wheel with this baby, just maybe giving the hubcaps a spit shine.

Twilley extends several of these songs into a time and territory that brings to Alex Chilton and his Big Star playmates, especially on the dreamy and fragile title track. Winding and at times melancholic, the track becomes layered with not a thick sound but one which seems to diminish the original feeling. It still excels but take a few moments to get into. The nearly seven-minute effort is obviously in no hurry to end and thus a few refrains are given. Twilley and guitar Bill Pitcock IV weaves a lovely, anthem-like series of riffs over the lush arrangement. "It's a mystery, so just let it be," Twilley sings in the bridge as its daydream aura takes hold. A tune that is quite rich but one that makes this album work splendidly. He ups this light, airy ante with "Runaway With You", a quirky bit of musicianship that throws in curveballs left and right to keep you more than interested. Although sounding like it's been dusted off from a 1986 time capsule, Twilley stays true to the tightest song on the album.

All of these songs tend to follow the same blueprint, but the singer pulls it off so easily and so well that it's forgivable listening to "King of the Mountain", a sugary bit of pop in line with Velvet Crush and Roger McGuinn. However he pushes the envelope way over the desk with the Bowie-ish or Ziggy Stardust-like "Ice Captain", which starts strong but fades with each passing verse. "Walkin' on Water" stays out of harm's way with another strong if rather ordinary pop arrangement that Twilley could probably do in his sleep. Here the guitar shines again and again, growing on you while separating itself from a bland and utterly horrid Beach Boys tune from recent memory (take your pick!). He digs this virtual pop barrel down to the bottom throughout, although "Chandra" takes a great melody and builds on it in a way Jeff Lynne would be extremely jealous of.

As Twilley reaches the three-quarters pole in this rock album journey, he finally lets up from the tight pop and rocks out a little bit during "Jackie Naked in the Window", which would be perfect music at your run-of-the-mill introvert stag party. "She's so damn hot," Twilley sings as the guitars complement each other in a sort of Chris Isaak manner. "To Wait Is to Waste" is, well, a waste, unfortunately. Too busy and with too much layering trying to compensate for what little is there, Twilley resembles Roger Waters during the final arduous tracks off Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, bombastic and over-the-top for its own sake. The singer shortens things for "Chance Of A Lifetime", which has Twilley sounding like famed (in Canada anyway) classic rock band Trooper ("Raise a Little Hell", anyone?) Twilley ends with a mid-tempo Austin-tinged rock "Flippin'" that is part blues, part big band and overall fun. This is not his strongest work, but is still perhaps one of his more consistent releases in recent memory.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.