Last autumn, locals Racewall Mosquitoes gave us the concept album The Recital of Annie Lytle, which was a tribute to the rumored-to-be-haunted Public School Number Four. The real strength in that release was main-Mosquito singer-songwriter Matt Morgan’s ability to put melodicism and vulnerability square in the spotlight.
The band are still incrementally doling out transmissions from Annie Lytle: the latest single “Vagabond” is actually the opening track of the album and taps into the similar new-meets-old-school pool—in particular 1970-ish Pretty Things—as the remainder of the album. A static-and-inventive echoed guitar stab jots throughout the rich acoustic strumming and Morgan’s plaintive vocals.
While the accompanying video could be viewed as a playful nod to pandemic USA, the Racewall Mosquitoes at the level of song and product are an odd breed: Morgan’s actual songs, stripped off his personal colorization, are simple and direct enough to be degraded into “modern rock.” And that’s no dig at him; more of an acknowledgment that he chooses to write in a framework of familiar chord progressions and then slap esoteric riffs, molten electric guitars and immense reverb over the whole affair. No coincidence there. The decision to disrupt any pop-audience attraction is casual, as is Morgan’s ethos to keep containing his own musical galaxy in his back pocket. Two approaches that make Racewall Mosquitoes one of the more engaging albeit low-key local musical artists.