EP Review: Mothman and the Thunderbirds – “Gazer” (Psych/Stoner Rock)

Written by Kirk

Mothman and the ThunderbirdsGazer
> Psychedelic/stoner rock
> Philadelphia, PA (USA)
> Released June 23
> Independent/self-release

What do you know about the Mothman? According to West Virginia folklore, the Mothman is a humanoid creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area between November 1966 and December 1967. The Point Pleasant Register was the first newspaper to write a report of sightings, the article dated November 16,1966, and the national press picked up on the story shortly thereafter. But who—or what—is the Mothman?

There are lots of theories as to the origin of the Mothman. The easiest and most popular theory is that it’s an alien, a supernatural being, or some previously-undiscovered species of animal. Other theories have pointed to it being a misidentified bird such as the Sand Hill Crane or the Great Blue Heron. Some sightings have been connected with UFOs, whereas others have been connected to a military storage sight the Mothman calls home. Then there’s the issue of those hypnotic, glowing red eyes. In other words, we find ourselves left with more questions than answers.

What does this have to do with the new Mothman and the Thunderbirds EP, Gazer? Nothing…and everything. Our beloved friend and bandleader Alex Parkinson’s approach to music is as wonderful and mysterious as the Mothman itself, refusing to be easily identified and categorized like any good cryptid. Bursting onto the scene in 2020 as a progressive sludge project, Alex has injected his songs with a variety of other styles such as doom, thrash, shoegaze, folk, and more. Expanding his horizons even further, Gazer finds Alex teaming up once again with Joe Sobieski on lead vocals to bring a touch of psychedelia to the lore of Mothman and the Thunderbirds.

The EP opens with the title track, a trippy little jaunt through the cosmos, perhaps a trip down memory lane for the Mothman. This song is pure stoner rock through and through, like Win Us Over-era ASG or Harmonicraft-era Torche. With lyrics written by Joe Sobieski, it’s Alex’s music that really and truly causes this song to soar. Between his layering of instruments and Egor Lappo’s production work and drum programming, you would have no idea that Mothman and the Thunderbirds isn’t a full studio band. There is a passion to Alex’s performances that is undeniably electric, and this one in particular is one of his best. At least so far….

Following the title track is the first of two covers, something with which Alex has proven to be quite adept since he released “96 Quite Bitter Beings” as a single back on September 28, 2021, putting quite a unique spin on the classic CKY song. Released as a single on June 9 is a cover of Smash Mouth’s “All Star”, a song that was as inescapable in the early 2000s as Adele is today. Did I own a copy of Astro Lounge after I graduated high school? Yes, shut up; chances are you did, too. Late ‘90s alternative rock got weird after Kurt Cobain’s death and Soundgarden called it quits. YOU HAD TO BE THERE. …Anyway, I admittedly cringed—I mean physically winced—when this song started, but I was very pleasantly surprised not long after the song got started. Again, Alex has a way of injecting new life and perspective into these songs that make them feel fresh and new, and Joe’s vocal delivery absolutely kills. If Smash Mouth had sounded like that back in ‘99, I might have kept listening to them for at least another album or two.

Cover song number two is track number three, and this one is very near and dear to my heart. Yes, those of us here at Noob Heavy love our heavy music (it’s literally in our name), but I am personally a lover of that golden era of late ‘60s and early ‘70s psychedelic rock. I’m also a hardcore defender of The Byrds; don’t you dare say an unkind word about Roger McGuinn. The original version of “Mr. Spaceman” is itself a trippy little number, a shining beacon in The Byrds’ brief but oh-so-lavish psychedelic phase, but Alex and Joe have somehow transformed it into a bad acid trip combined with a nightmare and an alien abduction. Just listening to this particular version makes me feel like I’m riding on a dilapidated carousel, the carnival-style music simultaneously off-beat and out of tune, and there are bright colors swirling all around. It makes you feel unsettled, uneasy, and perhaps a little bit queasy, which, when you consider the fact that we’re listening to Mothman and the Thunderbirds, make perfect sense.

Album art by Nibera Visuals

Closing out the EP in an instrumental demo track called “Liminal Spacetime Continuum”, which falls somewhere between the raucous stoner rock of “Gazer” and the ‘60s-style acid rock of “Mr. Spaceman”. While this song may be a teaser of things to come, it stands firmly astride alternative rock styles of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s like shoegaze and neo-psychedelia. And as good as this song sounds, it makes me wonder what the finished product will sound like, because it sounds almost as clean and polished as everything else on this EP.


There are bands and projects that come and go who, throughout the course of their careers, you can come to expect as a fan what each single, EP, and album will sound like. More often than not, they will follow some relatively predictable path as their particular styles grow and change over the years. Or their styles won’t change at all, merely fine-tuning their already well-oiled machines into something just east of perfection. Mothman and the Thunderbirds is a completely different beast altogether, pun only somewhat slightly unintended. Alex Parkinson isn’t satisfied being constrained by the trappings of any genre, instead choosing for his releases to be as mysterious and unpredictable as his project’s namesake. Because any good cryptid knows there is nothing better than to keep its watchers guessing.