Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Monork to Die

May 1, 2007

monorktodiecdartMonork to DieS/tEP

CD Baby

One beautiful aspect of music today is that with an ever-increasing ability for artists to record themselves, the space for recording personal songs expands. I found, while listening to Monork to Die’s two-song, self-titled EP, that I was transported back into the early nineties, to a basement bedroom with bad lighting and bottle-caps strewn on the floor beside a questionably functional four-track recorder. A spare collection of CD’s stretched across a table, among them a couple R.E.M. albums and the inevitable Nirvana.

And there, in the middle of this sits a young man, writing about his life and singing to the four-track as if it’s the only thing that will listen. On his site Monork to Die, Andrew Dell calls himself “a voice crying out,” and the two songs on this album, “Sex Crimes” and “Bill E. Idol is After Me,” reflect that personal expression. Light acoustic strumming accompanies Dell’s distant, clear-toned voice through drawn-out phrases. Dell works in Eastern-sounding harmonics over the strumming and a low-frequency reverb beefs up the tone.

“Sex Crimes” narrates the story of a young teen’s abuse that must either have been Dell’s own experience (and if so, I commend his willingness to confront this) or that of someone close to him. His use of “I” seems to say this is his burden, and the way Dell sings, or cries out, over the spare chords impresses the reality of this song.

“Bill E. Idol is After Me” describes a fantasy encounter with Billy Idol. The chorus is the title, achingly minimalist and surprisingly memorable, and it remained in my head for days. Afterwards, I found myself singing the chorus repeatedly, despite its lack of over-the-top pop sense. The vocals on this song particularly made me think of an early R.E.M. release, with characteristic simplicity and a strong melody.

For a brief introduction into the personal world of Andrew Dell, these songs serve their purpose. At least with his songs out there in the world someone is listening, and that’s one function of music: to express that which might otherwise go unexpressed.

Timothy C. Avery

the_kitchen_sinks@yahoo.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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