Daily Distraction: Dive into 'Darkening Stars,' the new solo album from Joe Peppercorn
The Whiles frontman and Beatles Marathon mastermind finally issued his long-awaited record this week, and it was worth the wait
Way back in 2017, Joe Peppercorn, frontman for the Whiles and Sgt. Peppercorn's Marathon, wrote 52 songs in 52 weeks. It was a daunting project, to say the least, and a few weeks into the endeavor, Peppercorn found himself in the play area of a Giant Eagle, drinking coffee while his kids scampered. Nearby, a TV broadcast the inauguration of Donald Trump. Looking at a newspaper next to him, Peppercorn noticed a headline about the death of Gene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon.
“I'm sitting there in a Starbucks in Giant Eagle, with super awful lighting, watching [Trump] give this horrifying, nightmare inaugural address about how awful everything is, and I look over at the newspaper … and I was just like, ‘This is so depressing,’” Peppercorn told Alive in the summer of 2020.
The scene inspired the song "Walked on the Moon," which features the refrain, "There’s no one left who walked on the moon/Darkness falling at the break of noon." Despite the bleak subject matter, it's a gorgeous song filled out by the harmonies of Peppercorn's Beatles marathon bandmates.
Now, at long last, you can hear the finished version of the song: It's the leadoff track on Darkening Stars, the excellent solo album Peppercorn released this week on Bandcamp.
Peppercorn pulled 14 of his favorite songs from the 52 songs project, then re-recorded them with some of his bandmates from the Whiles and the Beatles show: bassist Chris Bolognese, drummer Jesse Cooper, guitarist Jon Wink, guitarist Tommy Young, multi-instrumentalist Phil Cogley, engineer/guitarist Jake Remley and others.
The album is full of some of Peppercorn's best songs, which is saying a lot, given that the Whiles' Colors of the Year is one of the greatest albums to come out of Columbus. It's also a mature collection, with Peppercorn embracing his role as husband and father.
“It's not sexy to be writing songs while being a dad, but I think it's more interesting than a dad trying to be sexy," Peppercorn said last year.
Check out Darkening Stars below, which is also available to download at the price of your choosing.