Monophonics are in the midst of another invasion of the east coast and the South. They swing from Richmond through Charlotte, pillage and plunder Florida over the weekend, and swing through Alabama on the way to Jazz Fest.
Monophonics have just released their second album with blues shouter Kelly Finnigan at the keyboards. Sound of Sinning “promises” to be a smash follow-up to their 2013 album In Your Brain.
The three Florida dates all boast great opening bands as well, making for super evenings of music. Friday, April 24th, at the Crowbar in Ybor City (Tampa), Ketchy Shuby is on the bill. The Hip Abduction joins Monophonics in Boca Raton at the Funky Biscuit on Saturday, and Sunday’s Orlando show at Will’s Pub opens with The Groove Orient.
In anticipation of these shows and picking up the new album (featuring “Promises” and “Strange Love” from the 45), here is a review of 2012’s superb In Your Brain.
I grew up in the 60s in Baltimore, blessed with three amazing soul radio stations (WWIN, WSID & WEBB). I was a Soul Man. Then came the psychedelic tsunami, and it seemed as if I were torn in opposite directions. But James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, George Clinton, Larry Graham and those fabulous long Temptations tunes made it clear that there was an intersection of soul and psychedelia.
If you had a time machine and could take a vinyl version of Monophonics’ major release “In Your Brain” back with you to the early 70s, nobody would think twice (well, the Larry Graham sample in “All Together” might be a tip-off). This album fits so seamlessly into that deep R&B pocket of the time. When you listen, you will notice the various influences so lovingly honored.
Take a superb instrumental band mining the same rich territory as Lettuce and New Mastersounds, to name just two, and add a dynamic soul-belter in Kelly Finnigan, and you have a powerhouse band. They were the first band I saw at the 2013 Wanee Festival, and for my money I never heard anything that topped them.
The strength of their punch is evident on rockers such as “There’s a Riot Going On” and “Foolish Love,” a superb mix of clavinet, fuzzy psychedelic guitar, percussion and horns. The production on “Foolish Love” in particular reminds you of those great Temptations masterpieces such as “Run Away Child (Running Wild),” “Take a Stroll Through Your Mind” and “Smiling Faces Sometimes.”
They cover “Bang Bang,” which certainly was a Sonny & Cher hit, but this version owes directly to the great 1968 cover by Terry Reid. “Mirage” could have come from an Isaac Hayes LP such as “To Be Continued.”
Although I am partial to the up-tempo tunes, I confess that the signature song for me is “Say You Love Me,” which screams early 70s with the superb guitar. Finnigan is a true blues shouter, but on this song he delivers the soul big time; it’s impossible not to relate to the voice or the message – we’ve all been there.
To top it off, their live performance will knock you down and pick you right back up. Buy this disk, and see them in concert. It’s cheaper than building your own time machine.