Editor’s note: In this crazy year devoid of local shows, discovering new favorites hasn’t been easy. We asked a few friends, colleagues and music scene contributors for some of the Chicago-area bands who cut through the noise and truly won them over in 2020. Today, Adela Skowronski, founder and co-host of The Underbelly Hours and co-host of the Afternoon Drive on WPNA 103.1-FM, shares one of her favorites from this year.
Primal Moon is not a group that formed in 2020. Nor are they people I’ve just discovered: lead singer Joe Brunker was one of my very first interviews on college radio circa 2017, and I’ve seen the rest of the band (seasoned local musicians) performing in many a local show.
Yet as we draw near to the end of 2020, I find myself compelled to write about this band. The drop of their first major EP brought lots of joy to my heart. It’s the first time we’ve gotten a decent sized morsel from this group, and man let me tell you – they do not disappoint.
“Prone to Wander” is a swampy rock EP pulling from formulas that have stood the test of time. Primal Moon knows their strengths and leans heavily on them: Joe’s voice drips with prowess, Luke and Tony are locked in solid with the groove, and Brian manages the space between rhythm guitar and lead moments beautifully. It is so abundantly clear that the band knows how to read each other’s slightest musical signals too, maintaining the listener’s ear even during some of their longer jam sections in songs.
The subject material is typical, classic rock stuff. Songs are an outburst of raw feelings associated with a troubled state of mind, emotional insecurity, and finding your own way. The heavy riffs and in your face attitude almost acts as the band’s answer to these repelling states. You know the way people scream when performing difficult martial arts moves? Or how people used to dress up as ghosts to scare away ghosts during Hallow’s Eve? Yeah. It’s kind of like that. These dudes are fighting their demons away with rock ‘n’ roll.
In short, Primal Moon delivered a head banging, foot stomping, and comfortingly grounded EP in a year full of nasty twists and turns. It’s not so much a story as a glimpse into an emotional state, a way of venting your emotions into the world with simpler, comforting, and majorly heavy-ass riffs.
This year was definitely “Not the One” for most people, but if you’re into rock music, or just want something to head bang your way out of 2020, you gotta check out “Prone to Wander” by Primal Moon.
Favorite track: River (live at Jonfin Recording)