Friday, January 14, 2011

Monument - Goes Canoeing

Not every band is going to create something new and innovative. Sometimes it's enough to bring together disparate influences and create something heartfelt and personal. Which is exactly what Monument have done on their debut full length album Goes Canoeing. They gracefully combine twinkly emo, mathy indie rock and both Dischord style hardcore and post-hardcore.

The intro is the only waste of time on this album; thankfully it's over in a minute. It's also the longest you have to wait for a change on the entire album. If you don't like a song wait at most 30 seconds and it will change. Each song is filled to the brim with constantly changing parts that mutate into something that seems barely related to the previous part but is always a logical progression onwards. There is very little repetition on this album, with so many parts to get to that's expected and it makes the occasional repetition that much more powerful.

The first actual song sets the template somewhat for the rest of the album. Roots Run Deep shifts three times within the first minute. It starts off in a very post-hardcore, or if you prefer, post-punk vein. Both guitars are going full tilt, one picking out a twinkly melody over top some nice distortion while Gabe, the lead singer, shouts without forgetting about melody. After 30 seconds of that the guitar lines merge, the backup singers start and Gabe joins them in actually singing. This continues for another 30 seconds and then some horns come in. They blow chaotically for awhile, not really following a pattern or melody and then it's back to the energetic post-hardcore with all the melody in the guitar. This constantly changing style continues for the rest of the album. The songs never sit still which creates a real sense that these songs are crafted with care and attention, not just slapped together quickly without really thinking about it.

The next song Glass House has fewer distinct parts but is none the weaker for it. It's one of the best songs on an album full of great songs. The focus is clearly on the chorus; it is beautiful with alternating vocals between Gabe and the rest of the band. The energy put into it creates a very nice contrast with the chilled out verses where Gabe relates a story of playing in the winter. It's really hard to clearly define a genre for this band because of the constant changes. In just one song they go from soft ballad to epic rock chorus back down with lots of sparkling guitars all around. Most of the songs follow the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure but playing musical cut and paste with their influences makes the songs interesting.

Gabe's singing is clearly one of the highlights of this band. The others include the supremely catchy melodies and the great gang singalongs. Gabe's voice is really versatile. He can go from whiskey soaked semi shout to soaring elegant singing on a dime and even when he shouts there is still a large amount of melody. He tends not to clean sing a lot, leaving most of it to the rest of the band, and when he does he has a slight whine to his voice. It's enough to put a sad tint on the music but never overbearing or obnoxious.

Generally speaking they combine twinkly emo, post-hardcore/post-punk, indie rock and no small portion of math rock. The guitars usually alternate between bright bursts of flickering guitar patterns and forceful, driving progressions that create a sense of constant evolution.

It should not be a surprise that this is a great album. Members of Monument have put time in with legendary bands like The Summer We Went West, Dawntreader and The Tasty Habits. This album is not so much a merging or melding of styles but a mixing of all these guys know and love into a unique, tasty new thing.