Goon Moon's songwriting axis might have a thing or two to tell you about the rock's inequities toward the backing players. Jeordie White spent the better part of his creative career goofily calling himself Twiggy Ramirez and playing Robin to Marilyn Manson's Batman. After shaking out of Manson's world, he landed on his feet, sort of: Now he's one of those mostly anonymous dudes who fills out Nine Inch Nails' touring lineup behind Trent Reznor. Chris Goss, White's partner in Goon Moon, counts himself as a member of Queens of the Stone Age -- at least until band leader Josh Homme flips out and fires the rest of the band again.
So Goss and White haven't positioned themselves to be much more than hired hands working to elevate a charismatic front man. That doesn't mean the duo's completely defunct of songwriting talent. Stealing time away from their nine-to-five on major-label acts, the pair rev Goon Moon back up for Licker's Last Leg, and in doing so, hit up rock's most basic touchstones. Namely, finding a sleazy groove and riding it for all its worth and putting an almost religious belief in the power of the six string to save souls. And if the act's output isn't exactly monumental or groundbreaking (it takes more cues from QOTSA than ever before), Goon Moon's at least confident enough to make Licker's a solid effort.
Although Goon Moon isn't afraid to let a few experimental bits and bobs sneak into the mix (see the nine-minute, eight-section "The Golden Ball" and all its non-sequitur glory), the duo's essentially just another hot, sweaty rock outfit. "An Autumn that Came Too Soon" unfurls bubbles of distorted guitar leads and sleek arrangements that lend a little elan to straightforward rock. "Lay Down" and "Tip Toe" put a passive, laid-back twist on QOTSA styled rock, while "Pin Eyed Boy" is more fundamental, retreating into arena-rock trappings with big, juicy guitar leads and anthemic vocals. White and Goss' paychecks usually come from bands playing around on rock's edges, but Goon Moon's a chance to slip back into the easygoing world of no-frills rock.
Goon Moon might spark a little bit of interest in fans of Queens -- the act's most natural antecedent -- but it also proves something else: That when they're not backing up charismatic rockers like Homme, Manson or Reznor White and Goss still aren't ready to make the jump to full-blown front men.
- Matt Schild
Matt is a child alright.