Spotswood singer-songwriter Dave Mooney has assembled a great band called Viewers Like You, and they have released their first EP together, “Press Start.” The debut for North Jersey-based Mint 400 Records follows several solo releases by Dave. PHOTO BY LEAH POLAND
Following several solo releases, Dave Mooney’s first EP with his relatively new band, Viewers Like You, also is a debut for North Jersey-based Mint 400 Records, home to their pals in The Extensions, The Clydes and the recently signed Fake Pockets. The six-song “Press Start,” features a 1980s video game image on its cover, also pays homage to that decade with a variety of quirky sounds from former Paper Jets keyboards Kristen Leu. There are also brushes with The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen in Mooney’s songwriting, as well as the playing of bassist Justin Franco and drummer Anthony Flora.
The collection opens with an eerie-sounding introduction on “Hereafter,” a metaphysical debate that features one of my favorite percussive instruments, the vibraslap, put to well-timed, unnerving use throughout. The tune is about a sycophant who thrives on other people’s talents and dreams. I love the line in the chorus, “I know you believe in a hereafter. I know that you’re after something else,” which is followed by a quirky Kristen keyboard part that sounds like the score to a Brat Pack movie.
Next up is “Beating My Ghost,” a Beatlesque tune that surprisingly is even more so in the acoustic version featured in the band’s latest video. In the clip, Dave and Justin play the tale of regret and self-doubt as an acoustic duo whose guitar interplay also is reminiscent of another childhood favorite of mine: singer-songwriter Jim Croce and his guitarist Maury Muehleisen.
“Beating My Ghost” is the musical version of one of those moments in life when you wish you for a do-over, a fresh start, which perhaps inspired the EP’s title. The full-band electric version of “Beating My Ghost” is the Makin Waves Song of the Week. You can hear the track 30 times at 5 and 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and midnight daily through Wednesday on thepenguinrocks.com and 6:45 p.m. on Friday and Monday on the station’s “Radio Jersey” show.
In both versions of “Beating My Own Ghost,” a great high harmony is offered by Justin, who takes lead vocal duties on the EP’s first single, “Back of the Line.” The tasty track was made into a hysterical video that features the band’s mammoth-sized manager, K.L. Martin of 3143 Artist Management, as a bouncer who won’t let Dave into his gig. Since he’s no David to K.L.’s Goliath, he has to trick his way in, just in time to play his guitar solo. Lensed by frequent Mooney videographer Jacob Paul, the well-paced antics of the clip are so much fun, making for the best vid yet by a Jersey band this year.
The Mamas & the Papas-meet-The Loving Spoonful-like folk-pop of “Someone Holds Your Heart” is a treat, especially Dave’s clever internal rhyme schemes about selling your soul to the devil. Unfortunately, the song peters out inconclusively, which doesn’t do the rest of the impressive songwriting justice.
More quirky ’80s-like keyboards kick off “The Way Out,” which is about emotional and relational escapism. The EP then closes with the acoustic folk-pop of “Can’t Get Much Closer,” a fresh-faced finale for the six-song effort that also showcases Dave’s lyrical acumen.
Like everyone in this age of infection, Dave Mooney and Viewers Like You don’t have any live gigs on the horizon, but Dave frequently plays solo acoustic on Instagram @dmviewerslikeyou. Hopefully, he’ll also get to play again as part of Abbey Road All Stars’ 50th anniversary tribute to The Beatles’ “Let It Be” LP on May 22 on The Asbury Rooftop.