V – New Monsoon
No seriously, why the fuck isn't New Monsoon huge right now? With their
latest release, V, yet another slightly modified incarnation of New Monsoon
have asserted themselves as a tight, focused rock machine that jams with
purpose and intensity. There's no aimless noodling going on here, no heady
organic electronic jams either. New Monsoon is certainly comfortable taking
a song out around the woodshed and back, but they do it in such a way that
keeps things moving forward, never stagnating, never lingering too long
before blasting into the next leg of the journey.
The smooth and buttery stoned funk of the opening "Greenhouse" sets the tone
of the album, essentially letting you know "We're here to drive all over the
musical map, and we'll have a blast doing it." With "Song For Marie" you
really get the feel this tune is probably a heavy hitter in New Monsoon's
live arsenal. On songs like this it seems they have mastered the essential
jam-rock heavyweight art of crafting hope-filled beautiful songs that
simultaneously rock your socks off and lull you into a hazy dreamlike
feeling of security and warmth.
The gritty and twangy urgency of "Copper Mine" slowly grows stronger and
stronger until the tune reaches flat out rocker status. "Neon Block" starts
off with a few bars reminiscent of Keller Williams' "Callalou and Red
Snapper" before finding its own bright yet sleepy island sound. In an
interesting juxtaposition, "Neon Block" is one of the more mellow tunes on
the album, yet lyrically it's about a crazy city neighborhood, and all the
wild shit that goes down in such a place.
With this album one really starts to get the sense of New Monsoon's musical
maturity, as they showcase the incredible range and depth of their
songwriting, composition skills and vocal arrangements. If you don't get the
infectiously catchy chorus of "Water Vein" stuck in your head almost
instantly after first hearing it, you simply have no soul. Just accept it.
"The Other Side," with its creeping funk, bouncing vocal cadence and soaring
guitar work seems almost unfinished, giving the impression that this song is
probably a great live jam vehicle.
The instrumental "Romp" lives up to it's name, a lively bluegrass-inspired,
well… romp, with ripping banjo, guitar and piano solos. "Alaska" is an
incredibly impressive lyrical epic. Musically it doesn't go to too many
crazy places, but it really doesn't need to, as the story is where the
journey takes place. The lyrics tell of an outlaw who's daughter grows up to
be a fiddle champ, and she is so loved by her fans that when Pops gets
locked up they rally together and bust him out.
With 10 tracks clocking in at around 60 minutes total, one thing that
immediately stands out on V is the fact that there isn't a shred of filler
on the entire album. Every song is strong, masterfully crafted and could
hold its own against just about anything other jambands are doing right