Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mon Frere-Real Vampires EP

August 1, 2007

mon-frere-front

Band Name: Mon Frere

Album Name: Real Vampires EP

Best Element: Ridiculously inventive songwriting

Genre: Dirty, jazzy, heavy indie-rock.

Website: www.monfrere.net

Label Name: Cake Records (www.cakerecords.com)

Band E-mail: monfreremusic@yahoo.com

Mon Frere hits you in the face. You lose one man. You get to start over at the beginning of the level, and fight off the death ninjas, Radiohead-ish guitar squalls, and Nouela Johnston’s anguished vocals. You don’t stand much of a chance.

Nope, Mon Frere has just wiped the floors with you. Real Vampires is impeccably produced, immaculately written, ridiculously inventive, and downright rocking. Not bad for a debut EP of a band that has been together around a year.

Even so, the band sounds like it’s been together for years, as their chemistry produces pin-point timing, deceptively complex songwriting, and a dark, powerful sound that sounds like an angry jazz band beating Radiohead to death with its own instruments on a dance floor. The jazzy sound is best showcased in the tiptoe/stomp/tiptoe feel of “Up Circle”, which features seriously cymbal-heavy jazz drumming and a lounge-like effect on the keyboards. Pair that with the tom-heavy, shrieking-vocals, adrenaline-fueled, all-out rock attack that is “R.V.G.D.S (Fighting Mad)”, and you’ve got a band that knows its limitations.

The underlying connecting pieces of Mon Frere’s sound are the unquestionably good vocals of Nouela Johnston and the apocalyptic guitar sludge that permeates every song on the album. Johnston’s vocals are beyond good- the range is fantastic, the tone is spot-on, and the lines are catchy beyond belief (see the slow-burning “Orcs Don’t Know It” for proof). She’s got an outstanding general ear for pop, as her piano lines also capture that same charm that makes her vocal lines unforgettable (see the outro of “Orcs Don’t Know It”).

The heavy guitars are done exactly right- never crushing the life out of the sound, but turning it into something much more fist-raising, rock-bearing, and ear-stunning. Whether muting maliciously (“Real Ultimate Power”), pummeling the ear (“R.V.G.D.S.”), or driving the song (“Real Ultimate Power”, again), there’s always something that will make you sit up and take notice in the guitar lines.

There’s something for the listener of any genre here, whether “Somebody Told Me” is as heavy as you get, Chevelle rocks your mind, “Paranoid Android” is the apex of your musical world, or you hate bands that can be compared to other bands. There is something totally alien and completely familiar in Mon Frere- I automatically love it because I feel instantly acquainted with it, and yet I’m always finding something new and exciting within it. This EP is done in under 15 minutes- give me a full-length before I spin my EP to death, please. There’s just nothing better in the independent rock world right now than the insanity that is Mon Frere.

-Stephen Carradini

Independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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