Different Moon’s “The Underdog”

This is a stirring, deeply human track that serves as a call to arms when we need one the most. Different Moon’s “The Underdog” isn’t a crassly obvious anthem. There’s no guitar hero-esque solo, no soaring Freddie Mercury-style vocals, and no cliches galore that sound cribbed from a sports special or Hollywood movie. I hear a flesh and blood portrayal of those among us who plod away in the trenches, take the lumps, and still stand at the end of a long and weary day. It’s a song that could apply to the blue-collar nine-to-fiver, a populist politician trying to make a genuine difference, or the kid picked last for his baseball team who ends up hitting a game-winning home run.

Different Moon knocks it out of the park with this cut. I felt like I was hearing something special before it reached the first chorus, and the takeoff from that point forward only solidified that opinion. I can’t help but be agog over how well Different Moon mixes rock guitar, melodic vocals, and pop textures into a potent fusion that defies any easy labels. Some songs are what you call “growers”; not this one. I finished my first listen to this song eager and ready to hear it again just so I could relive the experience and hear any subtleties I missed the first time around.

There are such moments. One is the presence of a piano in the performance. It adds a further anthemic grandeur to a piece that, despite such tendencies, never hits an overblown or false note. Another element you may not properly appreciate with a single listen is how much the guitar playing contributes to the song’s impact. He never takes a single approach to incorporating the instrument, and we avoid any paint-by-number six-string histrionics that mar lesser tunes.

His wide-open and emotive vocals are a definite highlight. Once again, lesser performers would lean towards hollow melodramatics, but Piper doesn’t. Instead, he sings with full-on passion, moderating his performance for the sake of musicality, and his singing underpins the melodic high points of the performance. His voice elevates an already exceptional set of lyrics to a higher level while highlighting several outside-the-box rhymes. His style eschews relying on exact rhymes. Experienced music listeners will be used to that. It’s an idiosyncrasy many legendary songwriters share, and Piper is deft with its use.

There isn’t anything he does badly during this song. “The Underdog” checks off every conceivable box for both newcomers to Different Moon’s work and the project’s existing fans. Bands are not always collections of individuals, but oftentimes a specific aesthetic that drives the music, and Different Moon definitely has a mission statement.

Mission accomplished. “The Underdog” comes close to the band’s 10th anniversary, and I am sure Piper has spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the journey he’s taken with Different Moon since the passing of his close friend and songwriting partner several years ago. It’s an excellent song to herald such an auspicious occasion.

Chadwick Easton


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