- Beat Magazine -
Sean McMahon is often hailed as a musician’s musician which is a kind of backhanded compliment implying that the majority of casual listeners aren’t really going to engage, or that you need special industry ears in order to appreciate him. Its not all true though, as his latest outing with the MoonMen readily attests. Shiner is an interesting step for the Melbourne musician, moving from his accustomed country rock to an album steeped in Americana and alt-folk. And while there are moments of melancholy here the overall tone is one of upbeat hopefulness . his voice manages to sound both world weary and full of expression, as on the splendid Turn To You, and there is enough variety across the LP to keep you guessing. From the catchy opener House Of Mirrors to the eponymous closing track, there is a sense of covering many miles of heartbreak and redemption. “My black umbrella hasn’t seen the light of day in so long” he sings, and the cautious optimism rings quite sincere.
There is something reminiscent of Eels’ Mark Oliver Everret to McMahon’s vocal, and indeed were you to cross Eels with The Band you might have something resembling Shiner. As parents go you could do a whole lot worse. - Adam Norris
- Sydney Morning Herald -
Sean McMahon is no newbie. His work with Melbourne country rockers Downhills Home, alt.country chanteuse Jemma Rowlands, and on his own with Western Union, see him regarded as one of this country’s finest country-tinged guitarists and songwriters, albeit one who’s never really taken centre stage. With new outfit The Moonmen however, Sean McMahon has stepped forward, and has hit his straps.
A gorgeously warm release, Shiner slowly blooms from the lilting vocalled sweetness of opener House Of Mirrors and doesn’t stop growing, the feel and shimmer continuing long after the closing notes of the slow-groove title track have faded. Bringing in former Downhills Michael Hubbard (bass) and Josh Duiker (drums), along with pedal steel maestro Ben Franz (plus Matt Walker and Rowlands on occasional backing vocals), McMahon has crafted an album that stacks up on all fronts – his guitar, at the forefront for the most past, is the album’s signature; his voice is strong but is used as a compliment; his songwriting is on point, tight and poignant.
Based in the country idiom but completely unafraid to meander down myriad other paths – dalliances with rock, folk and pop – Shiner has properly unearthed a contender, Sean McMahon shown as a master of his craft.
4/5 - Sam Fell
- Rhythms magazine -
Beyond familiar varieties of alt-folk-country, Sean McMahon brings a fresh draught from the well. He references classic ’70’s and ’80’s takes on the tradition with bandmates Michael Hubbard (bass) and Josh Duiker (drums) with Ben Franz(the Zydecats, the Waifs, the Stillsons) adding intoxicating pedal steel. McMahon’s dusky laid back vocals (shades of Roland S. Howard) ponder heartache and dreams. The boppy ‘House Of Mirrors’ (Ross Hannaford-esque guitar) introduces wistful wonderings and laments. Lose yourself between electrified country twang and heady guitar break punctuating ‘Holiday From My Dreams’. (Did Keith Richards saunter into the studio?) Love song ‘Further Still To Run’ features rolling railroad rhythms, Matt Walker’s bass and Jemma Rowland’s vocal backing. The bass-driven title soars with wailing guitar (think Randy Bachman) and precarious military beats. From stripped back casual charm to royaly rocking, McMahon has built a bespoke musical home of his own. -Chris Lambie
- Happy Mag -
Some songwriters have the uncanny ability of building an affinity with their listeners within seconds. Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Sean McMahon is one of these artists.
With his warm, authentic tones, McMahon will walk his way into your heart and stay there as long as you let him. On his incredibly endearing new track Spring, the artist weave together elements of folk, rock , Americana, and alt-country to deliver an earthy sound that belongs entirely to himself.
The new track sees McMahon traverse through immersive storytelling and folk-infused, heartfelt soundscapes to deliver a new single that feels simultaneously mellow and adventurous.
Spring is the latest in a string of consistently great releases from the songwriter, with his discography including a pair of brilliant full-length albums and a live album.
-Rhythms magazine -
Sean McMahon continues his run of world class albums with his latest outfit the MoonMen. Over the past decade Sean McMahon has been responsible for delivering some of the tastiest guitar playing and songwriting around.
Whether as a member of Downhills Home, fronting his Western Union outfit, or guitarist to the likes of Suzannah Espie and Jemma and the Clifton Hillbillies, McMahon’s tone and touch are always exquisite.
For his latest album, Shiner, McMahon picked up his electric guitar and set out to make sense of some trying years. Determined to have as much fun as possible, he recruited Downhills Home’s Michael Hubbard and Josh Duiker for a lean, lithe, three piece called the MoonMen, and pieced together a cracking rock record bristling with gritty guitar tones and even grittier lyrics.
Listeners will get a clear sense of McMahon’s recent troubles in the lyrics of Shiner, but the first impression that will strike most of us is the intimate relationship between his 1960’s Harmony Rocket and his singing voice, both wethered, understated and presented with an unflinching tone. - Martin Jones