By Zach Collier
The Moss is back with their first release since 2021’s Kentucky Derby. Entitled “Insomnia”, the track is what you’d expect from The Moss: catchy, manic, and full of clean tones and surfy textures. Still, “Insomnia” is so much more. It takes everything we loved about Kentucky Derby and ups the production value.
This is The Moss dialed up to 11.
The song is resonating with listeners. It’s already been added to Spotify’s Today’s Indie Rock playlist, which has nearly a million followers. No surprise here, but “Insomnia” is already doing numbers. As of this article’s publication, it has over 700,000 streams.
The band describes the song as bittersweet. “It’s about passing the point in a relationship where you can’t sleep at night when you are away from them,” they say.
The Moss has always tried to create exuberant music that spans emotions, genres, and eras. This is due in large part to the band’s history. The group was born on the shores of Oahu in 2015. Teenage buddies Tyke James (vocals/guitar) and Addison Sharp (guitar) landed gigs serenading diners at local taco trucks in between surf sessions. Naturally, their songs took shape in the spirit of the island, imbued with the joyfulness and breeziness of reggae culture yet cut with the introspection and communal spirit of mainland indie acts like Pinegrove and Cage the Elephant.
The duo eventually morphed into a full band. By 2018, Willie Fowler joined as a drummer and Brierton Sharp joined on bass. The band traded the ocean for the Great Salt Lake and began gigging in earnest.
Colored by the sound of Stratocasters jamming through reverb-cranked Fender amps, all backed by bouncy rhythms, their debut album, Bryology, was an endearing DIY effort. “We basically had no budget,” James remembers fondly. “We bought some nice mics and an interface and I ended up learning how to mix while we were recording.” The record turned out remarkably well in spite of this.
Their sophomore effort, Kentucky Derby, was more ambitious, but still charmingly raw. It felt like a sonic quilt, stitching together disparate parts into a cohesive whole. “I’m really proud of how we’ve evolved as a band over time,” Addison Sharp says. “It feels like we’ve taken every different influence and mashed them all together to create something that feels really special.”
“Bryology seemed like a collection of separate songs we put together to make an album, whereas Kentucky Derby is a similar thought and story coming together to collectively make a more cohesive album,” adds Brierton Sharp, noting the album’s tracks are sneakily arranged in pairs of two that seamlessly flow into one another. “Each song could be listened to on its own, or you could listen to them all and get a broader sense of our intention.”
The band is a wonder to behold live, containing everything I’ve loved about live Cinders, The Backseat Lovers, and Cardinal Bloom shows. They have all of the skill, all of the manic energy of the aforementioned acts, but with a little extra something: Tyke James is an absolute character. Each show I’ve seen has left me grinning.
“No matter what we do, we want to make sure the songs are fun to play live,” says Willie Fowler. “We pride ourselves on being a band people want to see live.”
Whether you choose to stream or come to a show, the band just hopes you feel something. “There’s something special that happens when you get an immediate reaction to a song,” says James. “Whether it’s during a live show or even just a songwriting session, if there’s a reaction from people in the room, you know you’re on the right track.”
The band has literally crossed oceans to give us that experience. If you want to feel the raw energy of youth, basking in an island summer, you can’t go wrong with “Insomnia.” Give it a listen below. You can catch them at Superbloom Music Festival on September 10.