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Oh That Monster


Artist: Thelonious Monster
Label: Immediate Family
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 03 November 2020

Immediate Family releases Oh That Monster, by Post Punk Rock band Thelonious Monster (which has Dutch origin and means “people”). The group comprises of Bob Forrest on vocals, Chris Handsome and Dix Denney on Guitars, Martin LeNoble on bass guitar, and Pete Weiss on drums. From Los Angeles, California, USA – they were established in 1984 and continued until 1994, before getting back together in 2004 until 2011. Now they have returned again, older and wiser, but still with plenty to say about the state of the world (and particularly America). The band has released five previous albums, and performed with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone, among others. Oh That Monster is available on Vinyl, CD, and for Digital Download...

In the opener, 'Disappear', the vocalist sounds for all the world like Fergal Sharkey of The Undertones. This is bass-heavy riff-Rock with a touch of feedback and overdriven guitar. Weird electronic noises and ethereal voices add a certain mystique (“Save the Planet”). 'Falling Behind' at times reminds me of Squeeze. This is a more conventional Pop/Rock song with a moderate pace. Fastball might be another comparison for this one. It has a nice unusual guitar melody. 'Buy Another Gun' is said to be the song that anchors Thelonious Monster. It is mainly about increasing gun crime in American schools, and the consideration given to possibly arming  teachers. The music is on the off-beat for the verses and back to a standard 4 x 4 beat for the chorus. Ironically, for the subject matter this is a quirky sound, with occasional off-key guitar noises making their presence known. All of these songs have their catchy moments. The instrumental outro for this one is great. For 'Trouble', a Post-Punk style is portrayed for the riff-verse, the chorus turning to a The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars vibe.

'Elijah' has an echoing guitar sound similar to The Shadows, with an accompanying fuzz noise There are nice reverb atmospherics and multiple guitar effects. 'Teenage Wasteland' has a low rumbling guitar and popping saxophone make up this enjoyable buzzing commercial Rock song. A single in the making, with an almost late 1950s style. 'Sixteen Angels' has a light guitar and bass line turn to a chord sequence. This has more of an unconventional jazz and Prog Rock joining. How did this mess find its way into the mix? Tuneless blaring of the saxophones and raw screaming and shouting fails to find a comfortable home in this collection. 'LA Divorce' returns us to normality, with nice guitar playing mainly in one ear, with the rest of the sound made up of purposefully stilted instrumentation. This works very well, and could very well be one of the outstanding offerings on the album. 'Day After Day' has the feeling of a Country/Folk Rock composition. It’s simple but effective, with restrained ringing guitar and a conventional format. 'The Faraway' has an acoustic guitar opening with a traditional Pagan feel and the sounds of children playing, and ending with ominous rumblings.

This is certainly a game of two halves. The first few tracks are very strong, in that they’re alive, hook-laden and Rocky. They are tunes you would undoubtedly return to on numerous occasions. However, as the tracks progress the merit regresses; the music becomes much more restrained and experimental, like they are attempting to make a statement – and undoubtedly they are. Early on I was thinking this has to be worth an 8 or 9, but my appreciation of the whole decreased exponentially the closer I got to the end of the album. It’s a real shame, as tracks 1 to 6 convey the enthusiasm the band should have maintained for the whole album.


Ty Power

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