Penelope’s Thrill – Message on the Moon (album)

Penelope’s Thrill – Message on the Moon (album)

Penelope’s Thrill is an indie rock band from Madison, Wisconsin (USA), founded by Timothy Walsh in 2015. Their debut album ‘Twilight on Tunnel Road’ won the Alternative Album of the Year Award from the Madison Area Music Association in 2022. Their sophomore release ‘Message on the Moon’ will be out on April 11th. Six singles from the album have been released over the past three months.

“All the songs on ‘Message on the Moon’ feature intricately crafted guitar parts, richly layered, often contrasting fast arpeggios with lush, atmospheric washes of color. Songs range from the classic ska-infused alt-rock sound of ‘Things Are Falling Down’ to the infectious indie pop of ‘Ocean Avenue Sunrise’, to the lo-fishoegaze ethos of ‘Leslie Are You Sleeping?’ – all of which have already been released as singles.”

All the songs on the album are written by Walsh, who returned to music after a long hiatus, dusting off his vintage guitars at the urging of his son, Andrew. Other musicians who join Walsh on the album include Akmaral Zykayeva (violin, backing vocals), Ben Lokuta (drums), Wendy Lynn Markus (violin), Ben Jaeger (lead guitar), Amanda Sanderson (vocals, backing vocals), and Walsh’s wife Barbara (backing vocals).

“The album was written, recorded, and mixed over the past two years in my small home studio. Two contributing musicians sent in their tracks from overseas: Akmaral Zykayeva, a well-known composer and recording artist in Kazakhstan, sent in her backing vocal and violin tracks from Almaty, and Amanda Sanderson sent in her vocals and backing vocals from Newcastle (England). Several Madison-area musicians also play on the album.”

“The album was entirely self-produced, which for me is an important element in the creative process, allowing for open-ended experimentation with sounds and mixing strategies without a deadline. Often I’d be up well past midnight – well past 2:00 AM – trying out new guitar sounds or improvising guitar leads in the studio, and this experimentation is I think a key element in the originality and fresh sound of the songs on ‘Message on the Moon’.”

“The painting on the cover is “August Night” by Madison artist Kelli Hoppmann, who is also a good friend. My wife and I bought this painting a few years ago, so it greets me each morning as I come downstairs. Eventually, it served as the inspiration for several songs on the album, including the title track and ‘August Night’, which is a song about the painting.” 

“A main theme of Kelli’s paintings is metamorphosis, which is also the main theme that runs through the songs on ‘Message on the Moon’ . All six of the singles from the album also feature cover paintings by Hoppmann.”

“Leading up to the album release, my favourite song has tended to be whatever single was most recently released. But, stepping back, I’d have to say it’s ‘Ocean Avenue Sunrise’, because this song resurrects a character, Arabella, who had been the subject of a poetry collection I wrote ten years ago, ‘The Book of Arabella’, published by Parallel Press in 2014. That poetry collection also focused on the theme of metamorphosis – and the book also featured a cover painting by Kelli Hoppmann.”

Pre-save ‘Message on the Moon’ here. 


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