Scott Lucas & the Married Men – Blood Half Moon – Review

Scott Lucas & the Married Men

Blood Half Moon (The End)
by Scott Deckman

I once said that the Indie/Alternative section of Lollipop was starting to resemble the Scott Lucas Review. But what is the appropriate Lucas-free time period for an online magazine featuring punk/goth chicks in various stages of undress? As far as I can tell, all this Lucas music on one site in just over a year and a half is an unprecedented, historical event. So with that (and a little prodding from honcho Scott Hefflon), I will deign to write about the third Scott yet again. Haven’t you heard, S-C-O-T-T is the new black? What? That’s really his middle name? Shut up. It’s his professional first name. Get a grip.

And the new black seems to get more right this time than on debut George Lassos The Moon or follow-up The Absolute Beginners EP (which was better than the former). In one of his best songs (and a personal favorite) off Local H’s masterpiece Pack Up the Cats, “Hit the Skids or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rock,” our passionate vocalist said “I’m in love with rock’n’roll, but that’ll change eventually.” And with Blood Half Moon, that future is both good and just alright. Because while this effort can certainly be considered rock – though flirting with the baroque – there’s very little roll here. This is ensemble semi-orchestral pop, with seven players in all and instrumentation including violin, accordion and organ … but it can get loud. This is Scott Lucas after all.

Unlike debut George Lassos The Moon, on Blood Half Moon, Lucas’s meaty guitar is more prominent among the big band bombast; check him out channeling Jack White on his extended solo on opener “Lover, The Lullaby.” In fact, the sheer volume of Blood Half Moon separates it from the Married Men debut. The music itself doesn’t exactly break ground, but the tropes are put together in such a way that they seem fresh.

“Blood Half Moons” features a Daniel Lanoisesque guitar that’s also reminiscent of indie poppers the Ocean Blue (popular in the ’90s) channeling Twin Peaks with a dash of The Brady Bunch thrown in for good measure (yeah, I’ve mentioned those two shows on here before; maybe it’s time for me to widen my horizons a little), which Lucas was smart enough to keep prominent throughout the song as it undulates. Epic may be too strong a word to describe the music on Blood Half Moon, because it’s not good enough to be what I consider epic, but it is in effort. This is meant to be an epic of sorts, with four out of eight songs clocking in over the 5:45 mark, with “Out Of The Boat” a prog-like 9:32 in length, but this music is more interesting – and looser – than your standard prog.

“Steady Gaze” starts off with what sounds like a bass drum intro reminiscent of another of his great songs, “Hey, Rita.” And like that tune, the drum remains, in one form or another, throughout the song’s entirety. There’s an energetic string-and-guitar dueling solo in the middle of this ramshackle thing, with the two finally converging in a communion of sorts. The song seems fuller than the mere 4:39 it takes to get through it. You also have a piano in there: the song is damn near orchestral. Yes, “Steady Gaze” is the star of Blood Half Moon.

I’m on the fence if Lucas has the balls to pull off closer “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down),” Claude Ely’s gospel gift to the world. Here it’s nearly tripled in length, and he even adds a verse that appears to be about a truck driver. It’s an interesting, affecting “fuck you” to death, musically defiant, maybe what he’s always been. Scott’s a protest singer: Give him a subject: Stupid scenesters, small town life, troubles of a touring (and aging) rocker, consumerism, George W. Bush, relationships (of course) and now, even death – wind him up, and let him yowl. And yes, that famous scream makes its appearance at the end of this tune amid strings and percussion.

Not great by any stretch, but this record could wind up being a grower, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Better work, Mr. Lucas. And great first name (well, middle name anyway).