The go-to conclusion would be to dub Seattle band Poor Moon just a side-project for members of Fleet Foxes and the Christmas Cards. Of course the folk-rock quartet — Foxes’ Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott and the Cards’ Ian and Peter Murray — shares much in common with those bands’ sounds, but as debut EP Illusion shows, their style is complimentary to their parent bands’ work, rather than a mere offshoot of it. Illusion’s five songs occupy a dreamy netherworld elicited by the hushed, acoustic instrumentation and subdued production.
In the second half of January, the news broke that J. Tillman was leaving the Fleet Foxes to become Father John Misty. It was announced, at the same time, that two other Foxes—active members Casey Wescott and Christian Wargo—would also break off to pursue a side project with Ian and Peter Murray (of the Christmas Cards) called Poor Moon. Fast-forward about two months and you’ve got the group’s debut EP.
Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls), Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls), and brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards) have a new project that is full of hazy '70s California folk-rock sounds. It's destined to please fans of light psychedelia, especially if you're fond of the darker, down-tempo songs of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Jefferson Airplane; and Love. Taking their name from Wargo's favorite Canned Heat song but steering clear of the blues rock that's associated with it, Poor Moon focus on edited, deceptively straightforward melodies and glimmering, expertly restrained harmonies.
This band, a Seattle-based quartet mainly on loan from Fleet Foxes and Crystal Skulls, takes its name from a Canned Heat song that frets rather sweetly about humankind decimating the moon. The song isn't preoccupied with any particular threat, just a general sense that it's a matter of time before we make a real mess out of that place, too. "I hope I see you in the sky/ At night when I get old/ I hope you'll look about the same/ As when I was a boy," Alan Wilson muses in his high, strange warble.
This slowly forming side project of Fleet Foxes sidemen Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott (both also of slick indie outfit Crystal Skulls) started brewing in 2008, about four years before this debut EP, Illusion, finally saw release. Starting as a bedroom collaboration with some Bay Area friends and the occasional jokey entertainment at low-key house parties in Seattle, the band began growing at the same time as Fleet Foxes' overarching worldwide popularity. Between tours and in downtime, Poor Moon cobbled together their sound, and Illusion is a slow-burning five-song EP preceding a full-length slated to appear shortly after.
If Poor Moon was comprised of Seattle newcomers trying to put themselves on today’s folk map, the band’s debut EP, Illusion, would probably be much more impressive with its melodic, Simon and Garfunkel-esque songs. But because two of the band’s members (lead singer Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott) hail from the giant that is Fleet Foxes, it’s hard to listen without thinking something’s missing, and that something is Robin Pecknold. Illusion isn’t bad by any means.