If we could pick one overlooked record from 2015 to review, it would be Weird Moons by the elusive LA producer and musician, "Jack Name".
Weird Moons is a concept album about the effects of cancer on Jack Name's body and mind. Sometimes the changes are fascinating when viewed with a playful imagination, as on "Werewolf Factory", a track that brilliantly aligns a lead guitar riff and bass groove to create something irresistibly psychotic and funky.
Other times, the physically and emotionally crippling journey is one that's shrouded in solitude. Name relates the changes felt through a battle with cancer to the changes that can occur on the human psyche and body during different cycles of the moon. Though the mood slightly changes throughout the album, the setting always remains the same: nighttime. "With mirrors for eyeballs / that sparkle and shine / the dreamer must sleep/ or the dreams will all die," Name gently croons on "Werewolf Factory".
Moons has been noted by its releasing label (Castle Face Records), as being a weird but "intrinsically pop" record. Name's well-crafted hooks are hidden beneath layers of fuzzy synths that beam and penetrate like lasers, as well as pounding guitar riffs that seem to bellow from a dark cave.
When it's not Name's lyrics about the debilitating effects of cancer ("You always wait till I'm alone/before you appear/and i feel my material changing" from "Io") grabbing your attention, it's the infectious haunted grooves at the surface. Every musical element on this album feels like an extension of Name's body — the prickling keys at the end of "Io" sound like sharp, thick hair emanating from a human body as it undergoes a drastic change brought on by darkness.
On "Lowly Ants", Name poses the question, "What's the shape of emptiness?", which is an intriguing question to sum up a powerful album. Moons takes on many beautiful forms, but its main strength is in its ability to make the unknown feel quite natural. Name may not have the answer to his question, but the spatial lens he's put on a very personal experience certainly encourages one to place themselves in his world of changing bodies and moon observations.