If the White Stripes were both women and grew up in the South, they might sound like the Moaners.
If the White Stripes were both women and grew up in the South, they might sound like the Moaners. North Carolina-based singer/guitarist Melissa Swingle and drummer Laura King spark and slash their way through 11 humidity-drenched blues originals steeped in sex, literature and rock'n'roll. The three elements fuse with controlled distortion on "Flannery Said," while the bracing "Terrier" brings a self-styled big dog down to size. "Paradise Club," their variation on "House of the Rising Sun," offers pink-collar salvation in the form of decent wages at a rural strip club. "Elizabeth's Cotten Song" really is just that, an adaptation of an archetypical lyric from the Southern blues icon. The surprising two-piece versatility is evident on "Too Many People," with a jagged Talking Heads rhythm that brings to mind Kim Deal's under-appreciated mid-'90s band, the Amps. But the raucous, raw and rocking Moaners transcend comparisons on this sparkling, original debut.—WR