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Boomkat Product Review:
Fenster's John Moods scratches his AOR itch with this Air-ated set of soft rock jammers in collaboration with Music From Memory's mysterious Berlin-based outfit The Zenmenn.
On 2021's 'Homage to a Friendship', The Zenmenn struck up a conversation with German singer-songwriter John Moods, best known for his work with Morr Music's Fenster. A jam session in the German countryside later, and "Hidden Gem" is the result - a suave set of country-AOR radio pop put together with a pedal steel, a Yamaha DX7 synth, a Ukrainian bass guitar and a classic drum kit. You get the idea within moments of opening track 'Out of my Mind': the lilting twang of the pedal steel, cool lackadaisical folk-pop vocals, and pared-back dusted rhythms. Basically, it's the kind of sunny yacht rock that Michael McDonald, Steely Dan and Christopher Cross did so well in the late 1970s and early '80s, the sort of cocaine-fueled production masterclass that provided sample fodder for the West Coast's later smoove gangster rap revival.
Just listen to the low-slung intro to 'Into the Heart of the Matter' and tell us it wouldn't sound ideal alongside a Warren G vocal. Moods and The Zenmenn are adept at completely rebuilding a sound that fits its original time and place. It's not just the production that helps it click together, it's the riffs themselves that'll stick to the tip of your tongue like freshly microwaved mac 'n cheese. There are moments on here we swear we've heard before - it's like someone told French lounge pop revivalists Air to inhale an ounce of Gorilla Glue and cover the best of the Doobie Brothers. That's not a bad thing, really.