Locals: The Moon Dodgers embrace new roles and a time-tested sound on I'd Rather Be in Ohio

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Several members might be taking on new roles within the Moon Dodgers, but the band, which includes a handful of local music mainstays, has chosen to embrace a time-tested sound.

"It's just pop-rock," said drummer/singer Annie Wolfe, who joined bandmates Josh McGregor (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Alexis Hansen (vocals) for an early October interview at a Harrison West organ repair shop (the group is rounded out by singer/bassist Matt Davey and lead guitarist Danielle Kelly).

Songs populating the crew's debut full-length, I'd Rather Be in Ohio, which the band will premiere during a listening party at Little Rock on Friday, Oct. 16, tend to be every bit as brief (most clock in south of two minutes) and straightforward as this four-word descriptor, building on scrappy, scruffy guitars, propulsive drums and gorgeous guy-gal vocals.

The music's simplicity is informed at least in part by a trio of members stepping outside their comfort zones, including Kelly, who held down rhythm guitar in bands like Rosehips and Trachete and takes the lead role here, and McGregor, who drummed in Greenlawn Abbey and Sick Thrills, among others, and is tackling vocals and guitar for the first time. Then there's Hansen, whose entire musical history amounts to stints singing in the car and/or shower.

"I wasn't in bands - ever - and I have no musical experience," Hansen said. "I have discomfort singing in front of people, or doing in anything in front of people, but I thought it was good for me to try something new and to explore that side and see where it takes me."

According to McGregor, the same urge drove him to pick up a guitar and begin writing the songs that would eventually became I'd Rather Be in Ohio.

"I have two children of my own, so I wasn't available to be as active and involved in the music scene as I wanted to be, and being at home, it just seemed easier to play guitar than the drums," he said. "I'm pretty limited on guitar, so when I'm writing I'm trying to keep it pretty simple. Maybe as the band evolves that will change, but for the initial get-together, it was a comfort zone thing, like, 'This is what we do and this is what we do well.' We're not trying to rewrite the book here. We just want catchy, happy, feel-good songs that people can tap their foot along to."

Little Rock Bar

6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16

944 N. Fourth St., Italian Village