Videohippos: Unbeast the Leash
Teetering on the fringes of happycore?, techno, and noise, the Baltimore duo VIDEOHIPPOS have concocted heavy pop rounds on their debut UNBEAST THE LEASH. Jubilant at points, dark at others, VIDEOHIPPOS seem to have a sense of foreboding about the future. Some could point to hints of Manchester, and possibly Providence, but the end result is ultimately Baltimore City and the VIDEOHIPPOS home in the phenomenon that is Wham City (Ponytail, Ecstatic Sunshine, Dan Deacon et al).
As their name suggests VIDEOHIPPOS perform live with both audio and video. Backed by a giant screen while performing, VIDEOHIPPOS project personal and pop culture video collages in synch with the music. Though captivating its hard to distract from the stick skills of drummer Kevin O'meare (drums, vocals, keys) and pop weavings of guitarist Jim Triplett (guitar, vocals, keys). Pummeling his 4-piece kit with precision and power, O'meare draws drooling mouths agape, as well as creating the centerpiece for the VIDEOHIPPOS ballads. With beats in place Triplett works in waves of guitar melodies either via 6-string electric or a small toy guitar. Sampled beats and tones fit snuggly between the two while both Hippos share vocal duties.
Cloaked in coats of neon, flourescents, and bouts of joyous mania VIDEOHIPPOS debut UNBEAST THE LEASH at first glance would be a pop album, but after a couple listens you realize there is so much more going on here...they are trying to warn us.
Part Chimp: CUP
Less than a year ago, PART CHIMP toured the United States bearing $99 guitars duct taped together, a ramshackle drumkit with pom poms, and stacks of junkyard amps...not really your optimum selection of rock gear. But, from the first click down on their octave pedals, PART CHIMP laid into one of the most devastatingly awesome tours on which the Monitor team has ever laid their eyes and ears. It was on this tour that we became aware that PART CHIMP were the most under appreciated rock band active today. Who else plays this loud, with this much fury!?!?
PART CHIMP continues their course with their new MONITOR release "CUP" due out in the spring of 2007. A compilation only available in North America, "CUP" contains the new single "NEW CROSS", rarities, alternative versions of past tracks, a previously unreleased cover of the Beatles' "WILD HONEY PIE", and two music videos. The album, just like the live show, is raw, raucous, and will just as easily rip your head off if the volume is adjusted correctly.
We are going to keep hitting the snooze button at Monitor until someone shakes us up and tells us that PART CHIMP have finally gotten the recognition they deserve.
Part Chimp: I Am Come
Volume. It goes to eleven. Sure. Bleeding ear drums. Sure. But the use of volume is not a gimmick for Part Chimp. Volume and amps maxed out is needed to reach the sounds and feelings that ended up on their second LP "I AM COME." Nearly becoming complete tape scramble, Part Chimp takes volume to the clipping point.After displaying their near ear drum bursting levels on their first LP "Chart Pimp," Part Chimp have refined their sound, maintaining the walls of distortion, yet adding more hooks and harmony. The word evolution could be used here, butwithout being punny, let's say Part Chimp have developed, but the inner ape is still with them. If Part Chimp's debut was crusty punk fueled by an Ampthetamine Reptile crunch, then "I AM COME" is a highly refined offering, standing alongside distortion dwellers such as My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and Sunno))). Recorded and mixed deep in the red by John Cummings of Mogwai, "I AM COME" is an unbelievable mix of dynamics, harmony, and dissonance.
Hudson Bell: When the Sun is the Moon
Baton Rouge born and raised in the South, it was at the early age ofthirteen that Hudson Bell began tinkering with the guitar. His lessonsended abruptly when his guitar teacher committed suicide, forcingHudson to teach himself how to play and write.After years of skipping through various cities (Oxford, Little Rock,Lexington) and stacks of novels later, Hudson left the South for the WestCoast. It was in San Francisco that Hudson Bell created the band"Hudson Bell" with his friends John Slater (bass, piano/organ) and BrianFraser (drums) and recorded "When the Sun is the Moon."Pop at heart, "When the Sun is the Moon" gets swsllowed in swirls ofdistortion and dense guitar solos and binges. On par with guitar bendersNeil Young and Doug Martsch, Hudson Bell's guitars change densities,get lost, spiral, then return.Yet, even under the eruptions of fuzz and mounds of pedal tapping, thereare epic pop songs. Tracks filled with sincere lyricism and unavoidablemelodies. "When the Sun is the Moon" is grand on all measures, filledwith contagious jams and monstrous guitar hooks that will get youcranking your speakers to hear every crackle and buzz.
Oxes: Oxes EP
The OXES are back, and in grand style. After spending time apart getting married in Italy, delivering pizzas, worshipping football great Ray Lewis, and perfecting the art of the "claw" the OXES have returned to put their finest tunes to date on tape in THREE years! Recorded by the OXES in their way fab home studio in the outskirts ofBaltimore, the OXES EP is a maddening chunk of rock'n'roll, containingsignature OXES' stadium riffage, drum spills and fills, and sense of humor.But, this release is a turning point in the OXES songwriting as they dabblein more straight forward rock numbers, and more, well mental rock numbers.Playing with time signatures, guitar leads/solos, off kilter rhythms, andeven remixing a song, the OXES have taken a step into a slightly newdirection. Simply put, this lil' ep will slay!!!
Please be advised to be on drugs when you listen to this album.
Big Bear: s/t
"Big Bear finished off the night with an unrelenting avalanche of metallicart-punk. The five-piece's close-knit compositions pummeled and exploded ina fashion not unlike the late, great Unwound. ..Regardless, they played adamn fine show..." - Delusions of Adequacy
Hailing from Boston, with two years under their belt, BIG BEAR aren't quitewhat you would expect given their unassuming appearance. Using a seldomtapped harmonic palette, BIG BEAR layers "twisting snake" guitars over acrest of low end bass and blast beats. Intense, screaming vocals float ontop tambourine cracked shin guards.
BIG BEAR has no real solid reference point to consider. Sound like this,sound like that ...none of it matters to any of them. While presentlybuilding a reputation for explosive and exceptionally loud liveperformances, coupled with the intensity and technical proficiency theyexhibit both on stage and recorded, BIG BEAR undoubtedly stands to sonicallyre-configure, convert, and astonish many audiences in the future.
More Dogs: Never Let Them Catch You Crying
" Swear it's Charlie Chaplin covering This Heat or Brise-Glace!....a grand mix of playful and artistry." - Pataphysics Res. Journal
More Dogs are an enigmatic trio from Monitor's hard working hometown ofBaltimore, USA. After experimenting for several years in their loft/studioin Little Italy, More Dogs finally emerged with a refreshing sound basedaround a varied collection of instruments; the standards: guitar, bass,drums, organ, and the non-standards: whistles, triangles, vibraphones,slapsticks, blocks, and cowbells.
Their sound, always difficult to interpret into words is somewhere betweensoundtrack-circus-instrumental-rock. Or as a reviewer put it "like beingstoned listening to Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle while your little brother iswatching cartoons in the other room."
The album was recorded almost entirely live in the studio, during which themembers had to tip toe around the studio and interchange instruments. Onstage More Dog perform the same way. Swapping instruments while playing,sometimes holding the keys down on the organ until someone replaces them, orholding notes on a guitar to make a switch, all working in some sort ofchoreography that matches the whimsical charm of More Dogs' music.
Recorded and live, More Dogs are producing diversely beautiful music thatgets more rewarding after each listening session.
Early Man: s/t
Originally from Ohio, Mike Conte (guitar, vox) and Adam Bennati (drums) formed Early Man two years ago in New York City where they picked up Dave Pajo (Slint) as their bass player. So how does this trio sound? Like a fucking metal revolution! How many epic metal jams can a band write without even one guitar solo? A shitload, that's how many, and EARLY MAN can prove it.
Driving and grinding heavy riffage oozes from every song on EARLY MAN'S debut EP, putting in mind classic metal bands, but with enough lifeforce of it's own to make it totally new and destructive on its own.
EARLY MAN are true believer's, without a doubt. And soon, so you will. Metal is back!
Cass McCombs: PREfection
Never achieving the mass popularity that they deserved, CASS MCCOMBS' firsttwo releases "Not the Way" and "A" were able to catch press acclaim whereverthere were ears smart enough to appreciate them. But it will be hard tokeep "PREfection", CASS MCCOMBS 2nd full length, within the grasp of justthe underground. A shift of character, "PREfection" is a record of swooning romance, with apristine guitar pop heart. The mood is a timeless one of slumbering, echo-ydrums, ghostly organ drones, reverb-shuddering guitars, and CASS's vocaltaking the foreground, towering with an understated emotive quality, eitherwhispering in your ear or losing itself in its own melodies. CASS' words andlyrics on "PREfection" are nothing less than astounding. There are shortstories with stray ends that need tying up, an intriguing obliqueness, butCass wants to keep the veil in place. All the better to lure you in.
With "PREfection" CASS MCCOMBS, will finally be realized as a prominent andcritical artist of our time. There is something new and magical here.