Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WOOL -- 'Lunar Momento, Lost Rancho Session I' / Review

From left, Al Bloch, Chris Bratton, Pete Stahl and Franz Stahl. (Courtesy photo)
By Andy

Sometimes you get lucky... Like hitting the rock'n-roll jackpot lucky.

I mean, we were stoked to be seeing L7 at the Berkeley Square one night in the early '90s, but when the opening band manned the stage, some of the musicians looked familiar.

And when the singer screamed into the mic and proceeded to go apeshit while the guitarist mightily riffed away, I thought, "Are those the dudes from Scream?"

True, but they were now the guys from WOOL, a rock-solid outfit that leveled the crowd -- at least in my mind -- that evening. There was energy galore, loudness, madness and a whole lot of melody in there, as well.

Pete Stahl, Franz Stahl (both of Scream), Al Bloch (Concrete Blonde) and Peter Moffett (Government Issue). Talk about your ideal 1-4 hitters in the batting order ... and who needs the rest of the team, really?
Pete and Franz recently with Scream in Seattle. (Andy photos)

Cat and I saw the band live a handful of times during their six-year lifespan at gigs in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz and once in Seattle. All grade-A gigs, and the records got heaps of action at our house.

And now, we've got "Lunar Momento-- Lost Rancho Session I," a dozen songs recorded in 1994 while the guys (by this time, featuring the blue-chip Chris Bratton on drums) set up shop in the California high desert at Rancho De La Luna studios.

"At best, a Rock and Roll Band is an organic unit... creating music by instinct, without pressure or expectation," Bloch writes in the LP's liner notes.

"As the sun starts to set, Desert life comes out of the shadows and proclaims itself. Night gave way to a frenzy of musical activity by us, and a host of good friends who stopped by during the whole process giving life, and relief, to our soundscapes," Franz writes.

From the guitar-blazing "Everything We Do" to Pete's wide-open melodic closer "I Am You," the guys play loose and free and raw on these demos. Like Bratton writes in the fold-out sleeve, "the range of tunes we took on was fairly wide-- as hopefully this record might demonstrate," there's everything from pop, to rock to acoustic to surf music on this LP -- and the desert sun shines down upon those who unearthed these tapes and brought us this record.

The familiar Bloch bass and drummer lock-in on "Car Crash" brings back memories of listening to the "Budspawn" EP infinite times. And Pete's vocal range always makes WOOL songs gel -- low, high, scream, whatever comes out ... it's always intense and emotional.

The stellar Bloch-written back-to-back twosome of "Wonderful" and "Father of Three" tread the pop and rockin' countryish ground, and never fret, Franz is ever-present to boost these ones --and every tune-- to the sky with his guitaristry. (Even Franz's acoustic-laden "Pockets" eventually gets the sonic treatment.)

And the guys never stray too far from their punk roots as they rip into the '77-style "Sibling Rivalry Redux" and a cover of the Nervebreakers classic, "My Girlfriend is a Rock."

I can't wait for Rancho session No. 2 to be unleashed.

(Dine Alone Records)


  1. Wish I had lived on the West Coast when Wool was around. Rancho 2 sessions *is* released, but only as a digital download at the moment. Check it on iTunes.

  2. Thanks for the tip on Session 2. I believe the 7-inch that came with Session 1 is on there. Also, we've heard "Soundcheck Song" on the Live Series release. cheers!

  3. Well, it's sort of weird..."Lunar Momento" (cool title) is certainly music. And I enjoy Wool's music. Yet when I listen to these unearthed recordings, I wonder why this...why now? What were the circumstances, were they just spontaneous songs, or what? I am appreciative that the band made this available, still I haven't quite connected yet with the material. Not with the immediacy of Wool's other stuff, at least. A nice suprise, to be continued.

  4. i just saw this on ebay and was like, "what the fuck is that? i wonder if andy knows about." and then i googled the title and got... here!