Moody Garland

Moody Garland

Jun 05, 2022

Moody Garland is the stage name of guitarist, singer, and songwriter Justin Marin. Emotional Labor is Marin’s first EP released in March 2020. 

 Marin grew up under the scorching sun near the southern border where the Rio Grande spews into the Gulf of Mexico - a place they call “The Valley.” In the early days, Marin played with numerous power chord rock bands during the resurgence of garage rock in the early 2000s, but after moving to Denton, Texas Marin converted his more coveted gift of riff-making into songwriting. Under the influence of Elliot Smith, the Beatles, David Burne, Marin had something different to bring the Denton scene. A scene not lacking musical talent, but where genuine artistry was always in demand. Emotional Labor is the culmination of Marin’s musical and emotional experience in that scene.

“Boom”, “Emotional Labor”, “Never Gonna Wait”, “Supposed to Be” - these are titles of repressed obscurities, which one could argue is Marin’s sound. Marin has stories to share, that much is clear. But what those stories are about and who they involve is lost in the restrained singing of Marin’s voice. Disheartened but not dispirited, the dynamics of the songs create themes of never and always, of hope and distress, of winning and losing. Guitars partner with Marin’s harmonies in choruses to elevate the senses even though Marin’s vocals remain in a relatively narrow range. Instead of a rising pitch, it’s the swelling of guitars, synth tracks, and vocals that brings crashing a wave of emotion over the listener.

The lyrics are reminiscent of two people thoroughly entrenched in a relationship that may never last, but who are incapable of giving up simply because of the amount each has emotionally invested. It is the tragedy of heavy emotional labor with little to no emotional reward.

Marin uses a few guitar tracks, simple and cyclical bass riffs, a backseat-driver drummer, and a typically shy but eloquent synth in his songs. The attention is put squarely on the guitars. Bar chords are rarely heard in most of the album save the shoe-gaze tribute, “Emotional Labor.” Instead, guitar strings are plucked individually in arpeggios that follow steady rhythms and repeating themes. Other songs like Never Gonna Wait have strumming patterns with free and open chords that appear to wane tastefully out of tune as Marin strums.

Moody Garland is as she sounds; she is the kind of wallflower wearing the latest vogue but who keeps entirely to herself. Give her a listen. She will give you a buzz.

Written by,

Billy Ordeman (pictured above in 3rd image)

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