If you were asked to picture the band responsible for a song called “Danceboy.exe” who do you imagine? An electronic duo? A cheeky pop-punk group? Maybe a slacker-rock songwriter who penned a sardonic commentary on toxic masculinity? All of these would be great guesses, but they are light years away from the correct answer: The Moon Runners, a progressive rock quartet out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
The Moon Runners’ latest single and its accompanying video carefully balances showcasing their musical talent and vision while also acknowledging that, dangit, playing music can be fun! Take the glitchy VHS aesthetic of the song’s video for example. Other artists have used the style to make grand statements, but in this video, it’s mostly just a really cool effect. Genuinely hilarious visual gags (like Moon Runner brothers Brett and Stacy Tinant’s profile shots or frequent turns to the camera) and heavily saturated colour gradients makes it all feel like a serving of deep-fried memes. Throw in a shot of Stacy flailing his guitar around while pantomiming a guitar solo and it’s not too hard to read some irony into this video.
Sonically, genre compatriots Chon are an easy reference point for the Moon Runners, with their emphasis on technical skill (despite lambasting it in the video) and the unique textures coaxed from the guitar. Similarly, there’s traces of early Coheed and Cambria in the exciting full band unison sections as well as the catchy vocal melodies that have largely indecipherable lyrics. If I had to choose an outside reference point though, I I would say the Moon Runners remind me a lot of internet-savvy funk outfit Vulfpeck. When a guitarmony sounds more like Stevie Wonder than Iron Maiden, funk is clearly plays an influence. There is so much attention to articulation and space in their melodies and interludes, which is a nice change from much of progressive rock’s “more is better” tendencies.
Memes and music theory aside, for me, the biggest connection between funky Vulfpeck and the Moon Runners’ “Danceboy.exe”is that both bands are clearly having a blast! There’s obvious joy in the music that permeates everything and sounds like something you’d want to be a part of, regardless of whether you can double-hand tap the guitar.