Anti-Cowell – deciduous or evergreen?

Monster Island

Cathedral Steps

Bandcamp – out soonish

How absolutely marvellous to get a sneak preview of the new album from the wonderful Monster Island.  

And I am very pleased to report it is just as excellent as their previous releases. They just get better and better.

Bloomin’ marvellous in fact.

I am contractually required not to mention a specific  band in  this review – and so I should not – comparisons with that “gruppe” are somewhat lazy in that there is perhaps one point of reference to make, which I will not make as it’s now  inconsequential in that Monster Island – seven releases in – have clearly and demonstrably delivered their own identity and raison d’etre.  This is a band that stands apart from the mainstream, provides excellent “proper” music and stands defiantly apart from trends and what is hip…..

I was pondering the other day who was going to replace Don Van Vliet, in my head, as the ambassador for music which sat outside even the outside music. “Moff Skellington” and “FFD and the Lap Top Dancers” clearly do this with some degree of effortless aplomb, and there are one or two others out there who are getting close to that zone of music which defies comparison and requires attention. This album clearly places Monster Island at the fore front of that group of artists who are quite simply uniquely different and damn good.

So what have we got here then?

Well,  eleven excellent tunes, two of which were previously released (Pilot Whales/Secret Shopper) as a single. The songs are , as usual, rich with vibrant verbal imagery, no one quite captures the ethos of a northern landscape quite like Monster Island viz:  “The Roads are decaying with no-one to fix ’em” on the excellent “Roads”. The music veers from mutant blues, through post-punk to – date I say it? – progressive riffing and chording which gets almost jazz-like in a Magic Band type way. There is the usual laconic delivery, almost spoken word in parts, with that Blackwell-esque social commentary, which mesmerises and provides food for thought. There are some classic Monster Island stand out moments – “Kitchen Witch” is one of the best things I have heard all year.

Other stand out tracks for me are “Pilot Whales” (video below) and the glorious “MMS/Battenburg (The Flyover)” which is a perfect manifesto for the band. The bluesy “Bird in Lead Boots” is also a bit special. Having said that there isn’t a bad track on the album.

This band deserves to be heard….. you will be able to download this from their bandcamp page in a couple of weeks time …..pending that why not do yourself a favour and get their earlier releases and give your ears and mind a treat. I will definitely featuring this release on the radio show.

Well done to Stephen, Wesley and Lewis…….. one of the albums of the year for me.

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