Who: Alison Cohn, Taylor Hill, Alicia J. Rose, Meagan Faith Schreiber.
Sounds like: Sleater-Kinney singing noise-pop sea shanties.
For fans of: Superchunk, Wild Flag, Tom Waits, Bitch'n.
When Alicia Rose traded playing in bands for booking them into clubs, taking their photos and directing their videos, she thought she'd mothballed her accordion for good. Even when she returned to playing music, she didn't anticipate picking up her old instrument again—nor did she necessarily want to.
"We made you play," says Alison Cohn, Rose's bandmate in Moon Tiger, from across a table at Lardo on North Williams Avenue.
"At some point, we started playing, and they were like, 'Dude, come on. Everyone's got a drummer, no one's got an accordion player. Let's just embrace that as part of who we are,'" says Rose. "And I relented—gradually."
That's what happens when you're in a band with three self-described "alpha women." In most situations, though, there's not a whole lot of arm-twisting required to get anyone in Moon Tiger just to give something a try. Incubated for a year and a half before going public, the group arrived at its raw, tuneful sound through a process of, as Cohn puts it, "divine fucking around." That process hasn't exactly stopped. Live, everyone switches instruments, and everyone takes a turn on the mic.
As a conglomeration of musicians who wanted desperately to get back to playing, who plays what has never really mattered, as long as they were playing something. Rose spent almost two decades working her squeezebox in the neoclassical avant-pop project Miss Murgatroid before focusing on other creative pursuits (she's directed videos for Bob Mould and helms the web series The Benefits of Gusbandry), while Cohn spent the '90s in the New York rock scene. Meagan Faith Schreiber had never been in a band before, but always dreamed of being a singer, for a long time suppressing her musical desires as a form of misguided rebellion against her studio musician father.
Brought together by a mutual friend, the band had no preconceived notions of what it would look or sound like, or if anyone outside the practice space would ever even hear it. "It really just happened because we needed to get it out of our systems," Rose says. Quickly, though, the trio—plus Cohn's boyfriend, Taylor Hill, who joined later—found itself clicking in unexpected ways. On Moon Tiger's debut EP, driving, distorted guitars buzz against primal drumming and the melodic hum of accordion, while the vocals shift from harmoniously dreamy to soulfully bluesy, depending on who's delivering them. It sounds messy, and it is in parts. But what cuts through the clatter is the simple, unmistakable joy of making a racket, a feeling the members thought they'd never experience again.
"We're coming into our second wind of enjoying this, and doing it in a really pure way," Rose says. "We've all opened up a portal of happiness."
SEE IT: Moon Tiger plays Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave., with Ali Muhareb and Dreckig, on Thursday, April 7. 9:30 pm. $7. 21+.