The Moaners are a guitar-and-drum rock duo from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a couple of part-time bartenders named Melissa Swingle and Laura King who make music steeped in both punk and the Mississippi Delta. The band’s name has a kind of voodoo vibe, but that was not the intention, says King. She says they didn’t have any lyrics when she and Swingle began recording songs, so the playback sounded like moaning in place of the actual words. “Happy moans, of course,” she emails.
When they did get around to crafting lyrics, they wrote functional verse that needed little explanation. “You can’t get any poorer than dead/ That’s what Flannery O’Connor said/ I’m glad I’m not that poor yet/ So come on honey, let’s go to bed.” Sex, Southern literature, and a slide guitar — what’s not to like? Guitar-drum duos often fall flat because they tend to sound like band practice, but not the Moaners. King is an accomplished drummer, and what slide-guitarist Swingle lacks in elegance, she more than makes up for with a gut-level, demonic tone.
King explains their roots as the Moaners, which began seven years and three albums ago. “We were in different bands in Chapel Hill [Swingle fronted Trailer Bride, and King drummed for Grand National], and our bands played a show together one night in 2002. We were curious about each other after seeing each other’s performance. We exchanged numbers and have been playing together ever since.” The Moaners don’t really sound like anybody else, but if they could choose any artist to cover their songs, who would it be? “Tom Waits,” says King. “Because it would sound awesome.”
David Dondero headlines.
THE MOANERS: The Casbah, Monday, November 8, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $8.