Dusted Review: Guarding The Golden Apple

Dusted Magazine
by Mason Jones

Los Angeles-based ensemble The Moon Upstairs represent the best that can come of reassembling diverse influences and crafting something new, yet recognizable. Listening to Guarding the Golden Apple can, for trainspotters, be an exercise in comparison, but those who don't suffer from those impulses will find 10 impeccably-crafted tunes that fall loosely into a classic-pop-rock category, with up-to-date trimmings.

Band founders Sharif Dumani and Aaron Ebensperger apparently spent some time playing with Cody Chesnutt before starting this group, with Dumani as the principal songwriter and all-around multi-instrumentalist. Joined by Josh Mancell on drums and percussion and Mark Sogomian on guitar, the album also features a number of guests and a small string section. The resulting lineup pulls in everything from lap steel and celesta to melodica, bowed bass, vibraphone and harpsichord.

In less-aware hands, this could end up sounding like a scattered mess, but The Moon Upstairs does a nice job of staying within the bounds of what each song calls for. The core of each is embellished just enough, but the song itself is never lost or buried by excessive orchestration. The opening track, "All is All," serves as a fine example: It opens with a crash of heavy drums, fuzzed-out guitar, and dense keyboards, but everything moves out of the way to let the vocals through. And melodious, melancholy vocals they are, buoyed by just enough harmonious accompaniment. The song isn't afraid to burst into rock at the right times, but it's always contained within a strong pop-psychedelic framework.

"People in the Trees" shows the pure pop side of the band, a bit of a Beatles throwback in a way, with a string section break in the middle that would make George Martin proud. Throughout, the songs bring a variety of influences to mind, but in each case it's more like a hint of recognition than of tribute. "We Can Get By In Time" is an old-school rocker reminiscent of both Neil Young and Lennon, while "My Love," with its lush instrumentation and laid-back crooning, brings to mind Mercury Rev. "Never Thought Twice" is a song that the Flaming Lips would like to have written. The title track starts as the most placid, and least substantial, song here, but when the drums and strings join in, the song takes on an ELO-worthy air that, to these ears, is most definitely a good thing.

Closing the album with the nearly-eight-minute "Sogomiac, the Moon Destroyer" is a risky maneuver, but it works. After an ominous, quiet opening rife with buzzings, gentle drumrolls and plinking strings that has early Pink Floyd all over it, at the four-minute mark the drums crash in with boiling guitar, and the song takes on a chugging stoner-rock vibe. After a well-coordinated halt, the last two minutes bring us back to earth with a gentle '60s-pop flavor, all strummed guitar, Leslie organ, and dreamy vocals.

The Moon Upstairs have pulled off a difficult feat, bringing together disparate, yet connected, styles and making something cohesive with their own individual stamp on it. If you give this album a bit of a chance, the songs will get under your skin and stay with you – and that's the best trick of all.


September Tour: The Moon Upstairs w/ Silver Apples

Taken from www.GiftedChildrenRecords.com

Gifted Children Records is proud to announce SILVER APPLES and THE MOON UPSTAIRS will be touring during September 2007 throughout the nation, hitting selective cities, both large and small DIY spaces. With their "interstellar drones and hums, pulsing rhythms and electronically generated melodies," the legendary 60's psyche band SILVER APPLES were performing such sounds long before like ideas were adopted in the work of acolytes ranging from Suicide to Spacemen 3 to Laika. This will be Silver Apples first tour since 1999, ninety percent of their set consisting of the first two classic records, "Silver Apples" and "Contact." "The songs never get old or overdone for me. I enjoy playing them and feedback tells me that audiences feel they are still fresh," says Simeon Coxe of the Silver Apples who made famous an instrument dubbed "The Simeon," a "nine audio oscillators and eighty-six manual manual controls...The lead and rhythm oscillators are played with the hands, elbows and knees and the bass oscillators are played with the feet." Between the two bands, fans will get a rare glimpse at the best musicians of psyche rock's past and present.

Says Coxe: "I'm totally looking forward to going out with THE MOON UPSTAIRS," who will be touring to promote their debut album, Guarding The Golden Apple and have been hailed as "the answer to today's current cookie-cutter bandwagon indie-rock." "Epic" "Beautiful" and "Timeless" are the words most used when describing this multi-instrumentalist five-piece from Los Angeles. Don Bolles of The Germs had this to say after seeing them live: "Seeing The Moon Upstairs perform live is what it would have been like watching The Beatles record the Abbey Road LP live, which perhaps could have happened, if they had all even been in the same room at the same time…" Although receiving praise for their unique take on psyche rock, Guarding the Golden Apple has received comparisons to Neil Young, Pink Floyd and George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. "We don't mind the comparisons. We're happy to be compared to records that stood the test of time," says Sharif Dumani, principal songwriter/singer and guitarist.

After Sharif Dumani and bassist, Aaron Ebensperger toured and collaborated with rock n roll soul man Cody ChestnuTT, who garnered attention as the new Arthur Lee (Love) for the neo-soul generation, the two made The Moon Upstairs their full-time project along with Josh Mancell, Mark Sogomian, and Dave Baine (ex-player in Good Time Women and Jonathan Wilson). After sitting on their album for two years, Phil McMullen took notice, passed it on to George Parsons of Dream Magazine, which led to a glowing review. Gifted Children Records picked up The Moon Upstairs in May of 2007, putting them alongside such established artists as Silver Apples and Women & Children. The Moon Upstairs first national tour, they feel honored to play with a living legend. "We're honored to be playing with Silver Apples. Looking forward to the trip," says Dumani.

On tour, Silver Apples will also be performing "I Don't Know," a new song which was released as a 7" split single on Gifted Children Records, which is now being repressed due to popular demand. Simeon Coxe shared this single with One Cut Kill, fronted by Adam Daedalus who is crowned Coxe's "protégé." One Cut Kill will be joining the Silver Apples in the southwest on the last leg of the tour as an opening act, these dates still in negotiation.


September 5 – EMO'S – AUSTIN, TEXAS
September 19 – DELTA OF VENUS – DAVIS, CA

For more information, and an updated list of shows, please visit www.giftedchildrenrecords.com

The Moon Upstairs in LA Weekly

The Moon Upstairs are featured in this week's LA Weekly. Article and interview by Linda Immediato. Click here for the full feature.

The Moon Upstairs Listed (Dusted Magazine feature)

The Moon Upstairs' Sharif Dumani is featured in Dusted Magazine's Listed this week along with The Mekons' Sally Timms.

Read the feature here.

19 JUNE 2007: The Moon Upstairs on KXLU

The Moon Upstairs will be guests on KXLU's popular psychedelic radio show "She Comes In Colours", Monday June 25th , hosted by DJ's Dr. Frederick Phases and Minister Alvin X aka NOBODY (Plug Research/Rough Trade Records).

Past guests have included Sean Bonniwell of The Music Machine and Peter Daltry of Kaleidoscope. Tune in to hear Moon members spin their personal favorites, talk about their new album, and to hear tracks off "Guarding The Golden Apple."

If you're in the greater Los Angeles area you can tune in to 88.9FM from Midnight to 2:00am (June 25th)(PST). If you are outside of the area you can tune in to the show on www.kxlu.com.

09 JUNE 2007: The Moon Upstairs in Penny-Ante

The Moon Upstairs are featured in the new edition of Penny-Ante, "Book #2." Sharif Dumani contributed lyrics and an interview. Aaron Ebensperger contributed artwork.

Other contributors in the book include:
Bill Callahan (Smog), Sam Coomes (Quasi, Pink Mountain, Blues Goblins), Jana Hunter, Silver Apples, Camera Obscura, The Clientele, Jennifer Herrema (Royal Trux, RTX), Alice Bag (The Bags), Lene Lovich, Ariel Pink, Slim Moon (founder of Kill Rock Stars), Phil McMullen (Ptolemaic Terrascope), Feathers, Gris Gris, Tex Kerschen (Indian Jewelry), Sharron Kraus, Lavender Diamond, Human Television, and many more.

To purchase a copy of this book: www.Penny-Ante.net

05 JUNE 2007: The Moon Upstairs on Pitchfork

An Mp3 of "People in the Trees," the second track off of the upcoming debut album, "Guarding the Golden Apple" was featured today on Pitchfork Media in association with Gifted Children Records.

Click HERE for the full article with links.

22 MAY 2007: Album Released Date Scheduled

The highly anticipated full length album from The Moon Upstairs, "Guarding the Golden Apple" is scheduled for release June 26, 2007 on Gifted Children Records (U.S.). There will be both CD and double gatefold vinyl versions available for sale. The vinyl version features bonus track, "Dark Days."

For more details and go to www.GiftedChildrenRecords.com

12 MARCH 2007: The Moon Upstairs @ SXSW

The Moon Upstairs will be playing a few shows for SXSW Festival 2007 from March 14-16.
Check out the shows page for more details.

01 FEB 2007: The Moon Upstairs in Dream Magazine

The Moon Upstairs have an interview and review in DREAM MAGAZINE's Issue #7. "People In The Trees" also appears on the complimentary CD.

#7 features a wonderful archival interview with the late great Ivor Cutler conducted by John Cavanagh (Phosphene/BBC), Mats Gustafsson talked to Lanterns and Antony Milton of PseudoArcana. Steve Sawada interviewed the legendary Linda Perhacs, Lee Jackson wrote about and chatted with Josephine Foster, Ned Raggett covered Yellow6, George Parsons interviewed The Moon Upstairs, Henry Flynt, Larkin Grimm, Turkish band Ayyuka, Loren Connors, Mayo Thompson of Red Krayola, Bert Jansch, Absalom, P.G. Six, Function, The Left Outsides, , Sharron Kraus, St. Mary's, Tor Lundvall, Powell St. John (songwriter for 13th Floor Elevators, Mother Earth, Janis Joplin, etc.) , Mark Brend of Fariña, and Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar of Beequeen.

The complimentary CD features previously unreleased music by: The Moon Upstairs, Function, Lumeny, Tor Lundvall, Adrian Crowley, Crashing Dreams, Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, Sharron Kraus, the Kitchen Cynics, the Left Outsides, Yellow6, Fariña, St. Mary's, Freiband, and Absalom.

96 pages $8 cover price, $10 postpaid in the U.S.

To purchase a copy: www.dreamgeo.com

01 JAN 2007: Sharif Dumani on new Morlocks Record

Sharif Dumani lends fender rhodes and hammond organ on the new album by cult garage-punk band, The Morlocks (ex: The Gravedigger Five) - "Easy Listening for the Underachiever." For more info: www.TheMorlocks.net

09 NOV 2006: Aaron Ebensperger w/ Nick Castro & The Young Elders

The Moon Upstairs' Aaron Ebensperger will be playing with Nick Castro and the Young Elders at Folk Yeah's "2 Days of Autumn in Big Sur" Festival.

Dates & Line-up:

Friday, NOV 17th
Bart Davenport
The Court & Spark
Meric Long (Dodo Bird)

Saturday, NOV 18th
Matt Baldwin/Sam Flax Keener
Winter Flowers
Birds of America
Jonathan Wilson
Eric Johnson (Fruit Bats)
Nick Castro
Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) / Jonathan Rice
Women and Children

For more info: Folk Yeah

17 OCT 2006: Sharif Dumani w/ The Tyde

Sharif Dumani will be on tour playing guitar with The Tyde who will be supporting The Black Angels.

Oct 17 Troubadour (w/ The Black Angels) Los Angeles, CA
Oct 18 The Independent (w/ The Black Angels) San Francisco, CA
Oct 20 Doug Fir Lounge (w/ The Black Angels) Portland, OR
Oct 21 Neumos (w/ The Black Angels) Seattle, WA
Oct 22 Richard's on Richards (w/ The Black Angels) Vancouver, BC
Oct 23 Neumos (w/ The Black Angels) Seattle, WA
Oct 25 Kilby Court Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 26 The Larimer Lounge (w/ The Black Angels) Denver, CO
Oct 28 7th Street Entry (w/ The Black Angels) Minneapolis, MN
Oct 29 The Empty Bottle (w/ The Black Angels) Chicago, IL
Oct 30 Horseshoe Tavern (w/ The Black Angels) Toronto, CANADA
Oct 31 La Sala Rosa (w/ The Black Angels) Montréal, CANADA
Nov 1 T.T. the Bears (w/ Archie Bronson Outfit) Cambridge, MA
Nov 3 Fader Magazine Party 88 Delancey btw Orchard/Ludlow NYC
Nov 4 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
Nov 6 Local 506 Chapel Hill, NC
Nov 7 The Earl Atlanta, GA
Nov 8 The Basement Nashville, TN
Nov 10 Emos (Indoors) Austin, TX

For more info: www.TheTyde.com or www.RoughTradeRecords.com