Advance Review and Artist Spotlight - Moon Palace - 'Shadowcast'

(Photo Credit - Loren Othón)

Advance Review - Moon Palace - Shadowcast - (August 23, 2019)

Moon Palace's Shadowcast features solid, dreamy indie rock that is sure to get you moving. The vocals are tight, particularly when sisters Cat and Carrie Biell invoke low and high harmonies. They seamlessly integrate synth and cello into their brand of indie rock in a way that just works on all levels.

Some tracks feature an alt edge such as "Stop When it Hurts" that reminded me of The Breeders. Other tracks on the album were more subtle in their approach, featuring more effects-driven vocals. Some tracks feature some great guitar work that evokes comps to Robert Smith of The Cure. One area where Moon Palace shines is through their use of melody. They write solid hooks and melodies that even upon a first listen, you want to sing along to them.

Songs we'd Recommend - "On The Level", "Shadowcast", "Gamma Ray", "Bold" and "Who You Are"

Rating - 4/5

Artist Spotlight - Moon Palace

1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?

Cat - Started playing guitar at age 14 and began writing songs at 16. After a few years of playing out as a solo/acoustic artist, I formed an indie rock/electronic band called Lucy Bland. From 2005-2013 we released 4 albums and had a small but loyal following. I took a few years off to focus on life and in that time wrote a bunch of songs. I wanted to start up another band and finally in 2016 it felt like the right time. I had been playing small acoustic shows with Cellist Darcey Zoller which inspired me to record a full-length album. I reached out to my sister Carrie and Jude to see if they would be interested in starting a band and thus Moon Palace was born!

Carrie - I started playing the cello in 5th grade, which I stuck with throughout middle school and high school. In that time period I also started learning upright bass in the school orchestra and eventually started playing electric bass in the high school jazz band. That opened my world into joining bands as a bass player in high school. Cat was learning electric guitar and I eventually started picking up the guitar as well. We both were young teens who were heavily into bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney, Hole, and L7 and we played that style of music.

At age 19 I began writing folk rock/ alt country songs on a acoustic and started making records under my name as a singer songwriter. I released 4 records and played around Seattle and the U.S. under my name for about 10 years before joining up with Cat to write music for Moon Palace in 2016. For several years before joining Moon Palace I took a bit of a break from music after having my son who is now 5. I missed playing and writing music, but I knew I wanted my next project to be different. Cat had a whole bunch of songs she was performing out as a duo with Darcey and she decided to form a full band. That’s when I jumped in on bass and vocals and Jude joined in on drums. It became the huge catalyst for me writing and playing music again.

Jude - I started playing viola in elementary school and I grew up around two uncles who lived next-door that played music. Uncle Tony show me how to play drums. It wasn’t very technical. He sat down at the kit and hit each drum with enthusiasm. He made a joke out of it. He laughed the whole time and pretended to be very dramatic with each hit. He probably even did some stick twirls and dropped one and laughed! I was so shy but loved every second of it. Uncle Dale played guitar and they would have these huge backyard parties. They built a stage And every year for uncle Dale’s birthday he would sing “born to be wild” with all of his Harley Davison friends. The whole driveway would be filled with Harley Davidson’s and everyone would be rocking out in the backyard. They gave me permission to be wild and free and make mistakes in music. I had access to all electric guitars and basses and a full drum set when I was 10 so that’s where it really started for me. I took one class on acoustic guitar when I was in high school. It was at the community college and I learned how to play Blondie and Jewel. I was kind of depressed in high school and my mom noticed. She asked me if taking a music class at the community college would be interesting and helpful to me. I said yes and ever since then music has been a healing mechanism.

2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?

Cat - Usually, I write a guitar riff or melody that I like and then write lyrics to go along with it. Sometimes the lyrics come first, then I'll write music to create the mood of the song.

Carrie - Similar to Cat I usually write songs outside of the band on my own time. It usually starts with me coming up with a bass line and then a melody. Sometimes they are just riffs that I play at band practice to see what it turns into or other times they are fully structured songs when I bring them to the band. Or I send them to Jude and Cat through voice memos to see if they have ideas before coming to practice. More and more lately Cat and I bring riffs and melodies to the band that then become more structured when we are all together. The lyrics always are written a little bit throughout the process as I listen to the song develop but I usually have the concept of what the song ahead of time.

Jude - It starts with listening. I listen to a variety of different types of music and memorize the drums in my head. I choose one or two that I’d like to reference at band practice. I listen to what Cat and Carrie bring to the table and mix what they’re bringing with something I’m inspired by.