Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Reason covers a lot of ground

February 25, 2009

Music Review: Reason by Monork To Die

“Spiduh Man”: I like the groove on this song. Weezer meets lo-fi rockers The Mountain Goats. “When I grow up/ I want to be like spider man” (Should I have spelled that ‘spiduh’?). Heavy distortion on the guitar – waves of grungy, garage-rock goodness. Very unfinished sound, which is fitting for them. Slight echo on the vocals.

“Vampiress”: Overall echoing sound, like it’s at the bottom of a well. Vocals here are slightly reminiscent of Creed or maybe Audioslave.

“Gloomy Together”: Slow, rolling bass and acoustic guitar. This one has a slight doom-rock tinge to it. Very heavy sound, almost overpowering in the chorus. Monork To Die doesn’t have very complicated lyrics or instrumental tracks, but it works, I think.

“France”: Kinda relaxed, laid-back sound. It’s present in the entire album, but especially obvious here. More crazy-distorted guitar. Slight dreamy sound. For chorus, something about “Tell momma I’m moving on to France.” There’s a bit of sixties vibe, maybe Beach Boys.

“Weaker”: Starts with drums and acoustic guitar; totally got a Smile Empty Soul sound going on. Raw, emotional, throbbing music. Vocalist has a bit of swagger in his voice, if that makes sense. Still got a Creed/Audioslave thing going. This song is one of the better applications of their sound and tendencies.

“Jenny Don’t Read No More”: Rhythmic guitar and bass, with vocals taking a stronger position than previously. A bit like ’90s punk – simplicity of sound, fun lyrics, etc. Unfortunately short.

“Dark One”: meh.

“Carpet Cleaner”: Borderline metal. Kinda caught me off my guard. “She’s cleaning up my stain,” cute. Much more energetic than the rest of the album.

“The One Thing Under The Sun”: Odd mix of “House Of The Rising Sun” (both the Eagles’ version and the Muse cover, if you were wondering) with southern rock.

Overall, Reason is a good album. Monork To Die has a good thing going with their music; it just needs a little more focus. I’m all for a band trying out different sounds, but not quite this much in a single album. More of the likes of “Spiduh Man,” “France,” and “Jenny Don’t Cry No More,” please.

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

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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