Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mono Men ~ Stop Draggin' Me Down



(No official website.)
Style: surf, alt rock, instrumental
Label: Estrus Records
Year: 1990
Home: Bellingham, Washington (disbanded)

Members: Dave Crider ~ vocals/guitar
Marx Wright ~ guitar/b. vocals
Ledge Morrisette ~ bass
Aaron Roeder ~ drums

Additional: Josei Cat ~ organ


For those that aren't familiar with the contemporary surf-retro-trash rock scene you're missing out on one of the largest underground markets. Born from the three-chord stomp of the Ramones, the feedback-laced energy & near cocophony of the Stooges, with the reverb heavy guitars of the Ventures & other surf bands, with a look of 50's sci-fi, cars & diners & a large illusion spread across their album covers that the music is more elaborate then it really is (i.e. one album I have describes the 3 chord rock as African jungle rhythms). Not as large as the leaders in the field (i.e. The Makers, Man or Astro-Man?, Los Straightjackets, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - who did the soundtrack of tv's Kids In The Hall) the Mono Men do have their status ... though more so because founder Dave Crider owns one of the more respected surf labels Estrus Records in Bellingham, Washington. This was my first introduction to the surf sound & I've always felt for someone not familiar with the genre this is a good starting point. The Mono Men don't have the movie soundtracks dotting their albums like Man or Astro-Man? or popularized in the main stream by White Zombie, nor even the thematic look of either such bands. They also aren't as Ventures heavy in their influence & far more garage band raw in their music, i.e. the 3 chord progressions are overly obvious along with the fact that no song lasts longer than 3 minutes with solos often being more akin to feedback frenzies of pure energy than anything else. Though, it should be noted that this is also the band's recording debut. But, being in the middle of the spectrum they reflect neither the best nor the worst of surf rock. If you like this, you're probably going to like the majority of the rest of it. While, for example, if you like Rob Zombie's monster shtick you may not like the rest of heavy metal. This album features some great hits "Stop Draggin' Me Down", "Right Now", "No Way Back", "Ain't No Friend Of Mine", "Girl", "Stay Awake" & even the obligatory instrumentals (i.e. "Boss", "Daylight" & "Burning Bush"). High energy rock without any polish or flash!

CONCERT REVIEW: Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, c. 1999. I saw these guys in their home town a few years before they broke up. Having heard so much about them I was greatly excited to finally get my chance as all the times they'd placed previously I was too young to go to the bars. Though the memories have faded & I can't recall the music, though honestly for this style the live setting doesn't do much for it, I do remember the quartet, which might have been sans Ledge, slashing out their music like they were still 18. They were opening for Oregon legends Dead Moon, who I didn't know about & asked a friend of mine there why weren't the Mono Men the headliners, particularly given Crider's name in music label circles & this was their home town. Well, until you've seen Dead Moon you know there's no comparison to that drugged out trio which made the Grateful Dead look sober. But, for an opening act the now legendary Mono Men were definetly a good choice.


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