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Press play on AZP’s Red Moon EP, and you might think you’re listening to The Black Keys or Hanni El Khatib. Their American rock sound comes through loud and clear. Keep listening and you’ll get a taste of what makes them unique: a lyrical rap layered over angsty guitars on “The Tide On The Shore,” politically charged and self-revealing; a stream of consciousness flow on “Be Good Be Careful,” reminiscent of Childish Gambino, that fades away just as seamlessly as it came.
Self-described as rock/soul/R&B, they’re a fusion of a lot of things, hard to fit in a box or to define with an all-encompassing term. This unique combination is a gift, one that promises authenticity, and this video from their Sofar Sounds show in Omaha promises that their shows are ripe with this energy.
I imagine the moment when they play “No Religion” at one of their shows might be kind of like that moment you realize the wedding DJ is about to play a song to slow dance to so you start to see how stealthily you can inch your way closer and closer to the honey you’ve been eyeing. It’s sultry and dominating, a form of rock that manages to soothe.
Then, “The Lone Wolf” plays. It’s the slow dance – their take on the essential “Desperado”-esque song, but with an AZP twist. Bars included. At it’s end, they bring the rock quickly back with the album closer, “Save Yourself,” laced with defiant cries that remind me of my emo-loving days.
“Red Moon” is a rich and sexy album, equal parts familiar and unique. “Soul” is a hard thing to define – the type of thing that disappears as soon as you look at it – but this album brings us a little closer to knowing its meaning. It’s something that sinks into you as you let yourself sink into the moment. A feeling that surrounds you, the more you lose track of what you’re doing or how you got there or what’s on your to do list for tomorrow. It’s raw energy; passion that demands expression; authentic connection to the moment. “Red Moon” is that. If the soul of the midwest could reach out – hard-working, connected to the pain of discrimination, heartbreak, and oppression, dedicated to rising above it – and create an EP, “Red Moon” would be it. But don’t take my word for it. Listen below.