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Last year when this band was still called Dr. Horsemachine and the Moneynotes a debut album, This Year We Hunt, was released. I more than enjoyed the group's everything but the kitchen sink style and the disc even made it on to my "Top 10 Albums of 2007" list. Not only did I find This Year We Hunt to be a really great album, my enjoyment of it was immediate. From first listen I was attached to that CD. So when the band's latest effort, New Cornucopia arrived I was more than excited to check out the new music. Problem was I couldn't sink my teeth into the songs as quickly, so it took me more time to digest and appreciate.
Let's just say New Cornucopia is a grower, not a show-er.

And the Moneynotes' sophomore release finds the band cutting out the chuff. The music is still fun and varied, but there is more focus. While This Year We Hunt offered up an exercise in opposites (at least style-wise) that was somehow held together with the speed at which the group seemed to be moving collectively, this new album has more subdued moments and seems to have an overall greater attention paid to the finer nuances of songwriting. Maybe this is the result of some personnel changes, but I'd like to think this is the beginning of a good band maturing into a great band.

New Cornucopia still pays attention to a variety of genres (hence the apt title), but I guess the feeling produced by each change - from the sunny pop of "Bolinda" to "The Gimp"'s country loping - is much more cohesive. Among the thirteen tracks there are still plenty of strange lyrics ("My Kid Smokin", "The Moonshine", or "The Amazing Properties of Chauncey Brown" for starters) and all around quirkiness, and maturing definitely doesn't mean getting boring or blah. And the Moneynotes' upbeat numbers are still the meat of the group. While some of the first few songs fit this bill, it was "My Kid Smokin" that first solidified my love for this disc. "A Pirate's Confession III" doesn't remind me of its predecessor on This Year We Hunt, but this tune is just as infectious. In fact, infectious melodies are what make And the Moneynotes songs so damn good. If you you like to move or sing along, but aren't looking for traditional pop arrangements this Scranton, PA band could just fill the void.

New Cornucopia will easily be one of my favorite albums of the year. The one's that take a bit of time to absorb into my system always do. And the Moneynotes isn't really a traditional band in any sense of the word, so those looking for some sort of technical perfection or scenester cred should maybe move right along. I think the freaks and geeks - as well as anyone with a slightly warped sense of humor and a love for decent music - will get a kick out of And the Moneynotes.

-Jennifer Patton


We were huge fans of erstwhile Scranton, PA-based quintet Okay Paddy, and when the band's excellent EP Where You Went? [review here] was chased with news the group had disbanded, we were commensurately bummed. The EP presented some headscratch-worthy moments during which Okay Paddy broached surprisingly trad-leaning folk-rock sounds. But for the most part the music still fit within the framework of the Pavement-meets-Weezer brilliance contained on Okay Paddy's ferociously slept-on 2006 full-length The Cactus Has A Point [review here, stream the entire thing at Last.FM here]. The one exception was Where You Went? closer "Open It Up," during which the singer -- not sure who's on vocals there -- affects a drunken Phil Lynott style while the band spreads out and jams on a gritty dirge. With that as the band's final word, it was anybody's guess where Okay Paddy would go next.

While the breakup was surprising, it is not quite as surprising as And The Moneynotes, formerly know as Dr. Horsemachine And The Moneynotes, a project that galvanized in 2006 and released an EP, This Year We Hunt, in 2007. After the release of This Year We Hunt, a founding member of Dr. Horsemachine And The Moneynotes departed; eventually, Okay Paddy fronter Mike Quinn as well as guitarist Pat Finnerty and drummer Brian Craig were brought into the fold and the band name was truncated. The newer band's mish-mash of bluegrass, vaudeville and folk rock can come across as mannered, like an aural costume play (indeed, the band dresses in period garb like early American barkeeps or reporters in its press photos). Fortunately a sense of play -- and some strong melodies -- imbue New Cornucopia! with just the right amount of pep and pop hooks to keep the cheekiness from overwhelming the proceedings. If that doesn't sell you on the band, then this hysterical documentary trailer (real? we don't know) definitely will.

And The Moneynotes' music is even more rootsy and traditional than the most straightforward moments of Where You Went?, although there is an overt sophistication to the compositions that, incidentally, seems to echo the new direction that Delaware septet the Spinto Band has charted (more about them later). Certain vestigial elements of Okay Paddy survive, including wonderful vocal harmonies and melodic moments that soar. But in some cases, as in And The Moneynotes' proggy, Decemberists-esque "The Pirates Confession Part III," so much is going on at once between the key and tempo changes that it is hard to keep up. It may be too much for certain, more pop-devoted Okay Paddy fans, but listeners with broader tastes will find the cleverness bracing. New Cornucopia!, which was produced by Spinto Band's Nick Krill (who also worked on Where You Went?), was issued by Scranton's Prairie Queen Records July 29 [hit the YouTube link below to see videos from the CD release show]. The band will promote the set with a series of live appearances this fall, and we list those below. Also below are MP3s for two tracks from New Cornucopia!, including the delight "My Kid Smokin'," as well as some Okay Paddy classics.

posted by Jay Breitling 9/02/2008


The glass jar over there is full of what appears to be liquid gasoline and it’s being sipped upon as if it were red wine, downed with a stinging tongue and coating the road traveled with a film that could be a fading, hot sweater. Those guys over there, crowding around it and shooting the shit are the townies who brought the stuff – honorable guys, in boots, dirty jeans, covered in vests and buckskin and always a bit rosy in the cheeks whether the happy hour is near or far. This moonshine is like milk to Pennsylvanian band And The Moneynotes, a group that used to have a Dr. Horseface associated with it but has since truncated it off. …

It is like cough syrup and even more, the prohibition era idea of hording the drink in barrels and holes in the woods and the constant possibility of confiscation is getting closer to the rambling vibrancy of the band’s outlaw, country, folk music that doesn’t have any sense of what year it is. There is little that is straight-up or easily described in concern with And The Moneynotes, who are the equivalent of a shanty with a wooden rocking chair on the porch, a self-sufficient garden patch out back, musket smoke and a frontiersman’s appreciation for the strength of a drink and for the brute force of any wild critter mad enough or scared enough to attack. It’s a band that also knows the brilliance that can come from pushing all of the wooden chairs to the sides of the room, scooting all of the tables and the rest of the furniture so that it crams the chairs into the window curtains and half tip the potted plants to just break out the instruments, sit down at the antique piano and make the floorboards pay dearly for ever being a part of that house. The place could be lit up for a week or more from one night of ecstatic sousing and jubilant carousing. Without making anything obvious or asking anyone to do it, And The Moneynotes persuade everyone to just bust out of the rock and the ice and just melt out into motion, into hollering and hooting and having no wits about them for at the minimum an hour. The persuasion, come to think of it, isn’t really necessary. It is involuntary and moving. The purpose of the …Moneynotes is to boil blood so that it can just be happy, not so that it can burn and agitate. It’s a priceless way to experience a night, when seeing the band perform, for they give everyone involved a reason to retreat into a no-fly zone. There is a strong desire to just make this the last night that you’re going to have, to delay morning and let the soulful twang and grit pour through us like the firing of a canon and a chill. We’re all penniless when we’re being propelled and beseeched to just act, to go about the order of letting the forces take care of themselves, like watering running down hill. They make you feel naked while fully clothed and unable to contain yourself. It’s a cheap thrill, but by that, all we mean is that it’s inexpensive and readily available. Seeing and hearing the group perform old 50s and 60s doo-wop songs with a vigor and a snap is enough to make a person stay up all night dancing and drinking and calling into work the next day with a fake illness. The music that the band makes itself is rife with murder ballads and the rusty tales of men who lived in one-horse towns and fended for themselves just fine. They are tales of oil lamp light and tobacco smoke, played out in a death or a love or an infatuation. They are tales that proudly throw their arms around the waists of the pretty girls and swing them until they’re woozy with confusion and glee. They are tales that are from bygone times when everyone had a nickname and a breakfast of sausage and eggs of any make was thirty cents and not a penny more, no matter what diner you sat down in. Where they came from is where they’re going back to, hell-raising as they hitch.

-sean moeller -


Scranton’s And the Moneynotes may seem to have something missing from their name, but their album New Cornucopia lacks nothing. A concise medley of country, surf, R&B, jazz, swing, and rock and roll, the album segues through several genres yet retains a cohesive identity and sound. And the Moneynotes, a troupe of sailors, merchants, and professionals, began as Dr. Horsemachine and the Moneynotes. Their name stands as homage to the good doctor. A legend involving clever pseudonyms and the extrication of song material from the ghostly brain vat of Dr. Horsemachine follows but is too long to go into here.

Featuring the songwriting of Mitchell Williams (acoustic guitar), New Cornucopia really is what its name suggests: a bit of everything. Rather than sounding like a mish mash of this and that, though, the album flows with a hootenanny roll. The band clearly had a blast recording the tracks, as is evidenced with the crowd background noise and general celebratory swagger. Williams and Manny Quinn (electric guitar) split the lead singing between the two. Their loose vocal delivery is echoed by jaunty instrumentation. The first track, “Wait I Get Ya”, sounds like a junk band drinking song with washboard (Brian Craig) and various percussive textures. What sounds like a band of boorish, drunken pirates sings the refrain after Coleman Smith’s violin and Roy “Norge” Williams’ piano send the piece into a double time fiddle and space frenzy. Despite the informal vibe, the vocal harmonies are on point.

Epic “What Brings You Here” starts as a relaxed, slowed-down song that winds tension and build-up like a clock. A brief release occurs about half-way through the piece, but the momentum abruptly stops and returns to the walking pace (andante) with which it began. Passionate vocals and disparate harmonies make this piece one of the more dramatic on the disc. Rather than finding a resolution within the song, however, the song fizzles out, making way for 1960s surf tune “An Offering”. Instead of being anti-climactic, the move merely postpones the pinnacle until the final track, brilliant “Hornaplenny”.

Standout tracks may be hard to pinpoint given the quality of each track appearing on the album. After 30-some listens, though, “My Kid Smokin” still has contagious effervescence and some of the best vocal harmonies on the album. The refrain, “Ohio, she don’t sing no praises / Ohio, she don’t like my friends / I got some kind of friends” is the most infectious and boisterous set of lines in the song. Some of the particular harmonies are poignant enough to draw tears, even in the middle of the bustling sing-a-long. The piece, a full-force hoe-down replete with blues harmonica, utilizes old-time vernacular in a feel-good, good time tune. What sounds like a grimalkin (an old, ratty female cat, for those unfamiliar) kicks off the hopping bass-line (by Pat Finnerty) and gathering crowd. The grimalkin actually says “Lamdlam”, a vocal response used throughout the song (and in old blues tunes). In this piece, the piano embraces its role as percussive element. Quinn’s intermittent electric guitar notes provide another center for the rocking rhythm.

Finally, the aforementioned “Hornaplenny” concludes the album with the story of a town that has one of everything. “They got one bad guy, one fat guy, one virgin, one hooker / One suit and everybody’s tryin’ to use it” are but some of the witty lines in the song. True to the name, the song includes one of each of the previous great album elements. There’s hand clapping, a driving bass-line, smooth violin and hopping fiddle, exquisite vocal harmonies, and junk percussion among many other things. This final song reiterates what the whole album does. Throughout this smattering of influences and components, And the Moneynotes have a sound that is wholly their own.



It's not hard to feel enthusiastic about New Cornucopia!, And the Moneynotes' debut album, as the band obviously had so a good time recording it, that the music's sense of fun is contagious. But that's not to suggest that this is a perky, little pop album, it isn't. In fact, there's only a couple of songs that are even remotely pop within, and a good number of down-tempo tracks, regardless the set sports a slew of infectious melodies and clap-along choruses. So what's going on here? At their core, And the Moneynotes are an R&B band, but one that refuses to stick to that genre, slipping and sliding gleefully into others at every given opportunity. Take "The Rascal of Lisbon" for example, a torch song with a decided country tinge, at least until guitarist Manny Quinn rides in with his melancholy surf solo. "Rascal's Reprise" revisits "Lisbon"'s melody in sumptuous jazz style, but blends in British invasion R&B. The album is filled with these types of twists, from the hoe-down "Homaplenty" that's bedded in R&B, to "A Pirate's Confession III that stirs together swing, R&B and ragtime. The infectious, knees up "My Kid Smokin" is the nearest the band get to R&B served neat, but even that gets a slice of country, while the equally catchy "Bolinda" interweaves The Beatles and doo-wop. It's the up-beat numbers with their hook-lined choruses and strong melodies that immediately garner attention, even country haters will adore "The Gimp", while jazz detractors will be bowled over by "Wait I Get Ya", but the band's down-tempo numbers are just as striking. As are The Moneynotes' quirky themes and at times almost surreal lyrics. R&B as you've never imagined, and as it never was intended to be, but so right nonetheless.

~ Jo-Ann Greene, All Music Guide


Scranton, PA has had a rough go for the past 50 or so years. The major industries that once made this little city one of the biggest in the early history of the United States are gone and, along with neighboring city Wilkes-Barre, Scranton was put up for the “armpit of America” award not too long ago. As a life-long Pennsylvanian there’s never seemed like much of a reason to visit Scranton, but now that Dr. Horsemachine and the Moneynotes has seeped its way into my brain a northerly road trip might just be in order.
This Year We Hunt opens with “A Pirate’s Confession” – a jaunty hootenanny of a number with lots of fun, rollicking banjo, piano, and violin that is sure fire up the blood of all piratey types. The band packs this tune with every pirate reference in the book, from booze and women to scurvy and sloops. This song alone should make fans of tongue in cheek roots music stand up and take notice. Lest the good doctor and his rapscallions be accused of mere novelty from the mention of a pirate themed tune, one just has to move forward to the second track, “My Magdalyne”, a sweet tune that proves just how tight this group is. “The Body in My Trunk” and “Ms. Edison” keep the party lighthearted and on an upward crush toward the foot stomping “Bitch”. This song isn’t the strongest of the pack, but it’s like a big crowd pleaser at live performances. The final track, “Pertaining to the existence of Martha and her husband Wallace”, is slow and strange, but wonderful nonetheless.

It’s worth noting that the Moneynotes feature no less than six musicians and the album lists another eight contributors. The possibility that these folks regularly get together and play, for fun and profit (or at least beer money) isn’t hard to imagine. Sweaty basement parties, backyards, and lazy Sunday afternoon porch playing all come to mind. For a state often referred to as “Pennsyltucky” by its residents it’s not much of a stretch that such a good blend of country, bluegrass, and other roots music could originate here. The more theatrical, Vaudeville aspects of Dr. Horsemachine and the Moneynotes? Well, let’s just say the water in Pennsylvania is a little funny.

Rooting for the home(state) team is easy when the music is this good. Dr. Horsemachine and the Moneynotes is a solid group of musicians that seem to have a lot of fun making music. Nothing on this album is completely mind-blowing, but it doesn’t have to be more hipster-than-thou to be wholly entertaining. Regardless of where you call home, pick up This Year We Hunt and join in the fun.

-Jennifer Patton


THIS YEAR WE HUNT [CD/PQR003] Released Oct. 2007
NEW CORNUCOPIA* [CD/PQR004] Released July 2008
*several tracks receiving online radio play.
ON THE TOWN, ON THE VINE EP [7" Vinyl/PQR007] Release date: May 5 2009



And The Moneynotes began in 2006 as Dr. Horsemachine & The Moneynotes. Based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the group sand-blasted audiences with a unique blend of vaudvillian country bluegrass pop. Backed by a tight rhythm section, the songwriting of Mitchell Williams blended wonderfully with the virtuosity of violinist Coleman Smith. In 2007, after the completion of their first EP, This Year We Hunt, bassist Austin Smith retired to his native Texas. No one man could fill Austin's shoes, so the band added two new members, Pat Finnerty and Manny Quinn, formerly of Okay Paddy. With added dimensions of new personnel and instruments, not to mention different songwriting perspectives, a name modification was in order. Thus: AND THE MONEYNOTES. Wishing to capture a moment of inspiration, the group quickly entered the studio and began recording their first full-length, New Cornucopia. Mixed by Nick Krill of The Spinto Band, New Cornucopia maintains the roots of the band's original sound while incorporating different voices and textures to bring forth a broader musical palette.