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Get swept up in MOONRiiVR’s music

Heather Saitz
Guitarist James Robertson (left) and vocalist Gavin Gardiner released MOONRiiVR’s "Vol. 1" on Victory Pool Music.

Co-founder Gavin Gardiner describes the Toronto group’s sound, explains the origin of its name.

MOONRiiVR’s track “Blonde Hair Now” pulls listeners into a thick mass of musical layers and references that seem like they’re emanating from an old-timey radio show. Echoes of pedal steel or a Hawaiian slide guitar bounce off of percussion, making the Toronto band sound simultaneously retro and fresh.

MOONRiiVR’s “Vol. 1” on Victory Pool Music could be described as alt-country or Americana-esque. But co-founder and vocalist Gavin Gardiner said, with a hint of humor, that the band is a mix of ’50s-style guitar sounds, like Buddy Holly, with a bit of German electronic music.

Within that sound world, Gardiner and team bring contemporary issues to the forefront.

“Midnight at the Garden Hotel” discusses climate change — but the message isn’t heavy handed. While Gardiner sings about walking with a loved one through a burning world, the music remains peaceful, bolstered by locomotive-like bass and twangy guitars.

In a wide-ranging interview, Gardiner discusses songs on the band’s debut album, which was recorded at its All Day Coconut studio on 8-track tape. Plus, the vocalist explains the origins of the band’s name.

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.