After around a three years hiatus Monster Island are back with a line-up change and two new EPs which follow on swiftly-ish from February’s one off “S.P.G.” single.
The EPs are entitled The New Vernacular & King of the Minglers and are released on August 28th on “made up” label Ballast Records. They are digital only releases.
“in a panorama of partisan land
the king of the minglers idly stands
and pleasures himself by the endless fences…”
The band describe themselves as a “low motion branding disaster” in the “blurb drafted ” for these releases. For those of you who are not aware of them they have been around since 2007 (roughly), which they describe as “an insensible length of time”. Constant member Stephen Waddicor (guitar, vocals) is joined by Wesley Emmison drummer, who came back into the fold earlier this year (an original member who left for a while) and the surname less Ryan and Brendan (who appear to be from Dundalk) make up the rest of the line-up.
Although none of the above is completely clear and whilst Stephen has said I can send him some questions quite frankly me doing a “Smash Hits” or “Mojo” on the band doesn’t seem quite the done thing, and, I would much rather they retained at least some of their obtuse anonymity. Suffice to say they are based within the M60 ring and deliver unique and compelling music which I have whittered on about endlessly on previous occasions – see below for a comprehensive discography which is all available on Bandcamp. In any event most of what has happened recently is written down here for you to absorb at your own leisure and excuses me from making up some flowery prose to enlighten you.
The blurb says:
“king of the minglers stares inwards and sings of physical, mental and spiritual disintegration. It speaks with absolute certainty of anxiety, celebrity, sophistry, lethargy and dentistry.
the new vernacular squints straight ahead through prescription shades and asserts that there’ll never be a more effective rendering of the western alphabet than “badges for the boring”
Just to wander off topic for a moment I was at the “launch” of the Cherry Red Compilation of Manchester Music (7 CD Box Set) at Piccadilly Records yesterday and it struck me whilst listening to the some of the speakers and chatting to some of the musicians and record company folk that had gathered for the event that it remains my role to continue to reveal/expose/describe bands like Monster Island to you. It’s also very apparent to me through my other “job” of co-running German Shepherd Records that it is a continuous struggle to get “outsider” music some sort of air-time in a world where there are more bands than ever, and perhaps more depressingly there are more tribute bands than ever. Great music can get lost in the Tower of Babel of Social Media and digital promotion. Chatting this through with Matt Davies (Factory Acts) and Emily Oldfield (Louder Than War) in Night & Day after the launch thing Matt suggested a plan for a second musical revolution but I had had my second pint of 5% lager by then and my attention was wandering somewhat but I think I know what he means, and anyhow, Emily is writing an article about the new musical movements that are emerging and no doubt she will be far more erudite than I am in describing what is happening. However, I digress, Matt asked me if there were any new bands that he should be aware of and I did mention the new Charlie Marshall album but it strikes me in hindsight that I should have brought Monster Island to his attention. And in that respect I must point out Monster Island to my other DJ colleagues out there (I am calling on Messrs Cain and Hammond in particular) so that there is at least some exposure to the music in these new releases in other places than the peoples republic of Eccles.
Back on topic – there are 13 songs lasting just over 40 minutes over the two releases. The band deliver that particular “northern” sound (a matter of some discussion at the Piccadilly Records thing – the consensus was that it was a Greater Manchester Sound I think) which defies genre specificity, and in doing so becomes progressively more interesting. At the heart is Waddicor’s vocal delivery which retains its uniqueness, it is quintessentially Lancastrian, and that adds to the attraction. Regional accents are always far more interesting in music and much more preferable than the constant stream of sub Blink 182 translantic whining that pops through my virtual letter box on a daily basis (and perversely is described as ground-breaking – why “Jason from Hemel Hempstead” would want to sound like Matt Skiba or Mark Hoppus is a constant mystery to me).
This is interesting music, there will be riffs and structures that you are aware of and recognise from particular movements, but the band take those elements to create an overall sound which is unique and that I find compelling. There are contrapuntal lines of music which have a recognisable root in the back of Don Van Vliets head, and there are drum patterns that Klaus Dinger would have delivered 40 odd years ago. There is an insistence and urgency about the music, it is brash and abstract at times, and the words are rich and evocative – the band achieve a creative career high with “Badges for the Boring” from The New Vernacular which gets its genesis in Blakewater Delta Blues. David Thomas and Peter Laughner would no doubt feel that the exceptional “Dig for Victory” was derived in Cleveland with its bubbling and hypnotic beat. At times though the band sound completely unique with tracks like “La Danza” which defy comparison – incomparable riffing and changes. Matters also move in a David Byrne direction with the almost funky “Island Psychosis” that’s until the band completely flip the structure and do their own thing.
Anyhow I’ve whittered on enough, have a listen to the title track of the New Vernacular below, which is rather marvellous, and tune into my Aural Delights show on August 5th to hear four tracks from a unique and rather special band.
Blog (contains many of the lyrics)
- Swollen Words (2007 but released in 2017)
- Sunken Public Squares (2008)
- The Anchor (2009)
- Soap Factory/Surface Car Park (2009)
- #1 Albino Practice (2010)
- The Green Room (2010)
- Pilot Whales/Secret Shopper (2011)
- Cathedral Steps (2011)
- The Retaining Wall (2012)
- Amazing Radio Session (2014)
- House of Lancaster (2014)
- S.P.G. (2017)
- The King of the Minglers (2017)
- The New Vernacular (2017)