'Sailing Songs' - Out Now!
Doncaster, hardly the first place one thinks of when looking for emerging musical talent, but occassionally out of the dusty, and long since abandoned coal face, something sparkles.
Little Mono have been knocking about the South Yorkshire music scene since 2013 having been conceived in a comprehensive school music room by Vincent Marsh, the band's lithe, drawling frontman. Joined by guitarist and co-writer Joe Hirst years of honing their skills through gigging and rehearsing has resulted in the release of their brilliant debut album "Sailing Songs". Making up the multi-talented foursome who recorded at Rotherham's Orion Studios are Jarrad Kirk (Guitar/Vocals) and David Chitty (Drums/Vocals).
It would be easy to pin this album down to a singular sound, make the obligatory comparison to a legendary 90's rock band and move on, but this release is far too eclectic and diverse for that. With each listen there are sizeable chunks of 90's grunge fused with hints of Americana and a fair smattering of 70's psych-rock. It's not often I get to use the term Smörgåsbord to desribe a collection of songs, but there aren't many other words that fit the bill.
"Sailing Songs" opens with the subtle bassline to "Vivid", which a few bars later explodes into a searing riff that sets the tone for the whole album to come. Marsh's voice punctuates the thunderous noise that flies through the track like the sound of the Luftwaffe on a bombing raid, with pounding drums keeping ears pricked from beginning to end.
"Kites" pulls the reigns back slightly with a ska style beat opening for more raking guitars and thumping drums, it seems a theme has been set, and it's beautifully noisy.
If there is to be an anthem on this record, then "Propeller" probably fits that bill most closely, close your eyes and imagine a sweating mass screaming along to the words "(So long) Then I see you (Goodbye)" in raucous unison.
Arguably the best track on the album comes in the form of "Submarine Song", another that will undoubtebly have sing-a-long qualities. More eardrum shattering guitars, mixed with a dreamlike bassline, and a healthy smattering of synths swirls itself into a crescendo so mesmerising live audeiences will be repeating it long into the night.
There's no let up in the energy and full blooded nature of this 30 minute long record, and "A Shining Path" and "On The Spectrum" continue to challenge the limits of the speakers currently vibrating to breaking point on this stereo.
The pace slows again, briefly, for the opening of "I Can See the Wilderness", but any respite is short lived as that guitar drien volcano threatens to erupt once again.
Finally, a little (relative) tranquility comes in the form of "The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog". the vocal tones of a punk protest song, it is this time Marsh's voice that is allowed to come to the fore, while the guitars and drums play a supporting role.
The curtain comes down on "Sailing Songs" with a song that has "single release" written all over it. A little more poppy than the rest of the album's offerings "Blinding Lights" nevertheless retains all of the raucous energy of the rest of the tracks. That poppiness is soon blown away as half way through those tireless guitars return for another stamina sapping round, like a boxer biding his time for that knock out blow, and by the time the last string is struck and last cymbal smashed, that right hook arrives and leaves the listener dazed, but delighted.
If you need more in your life than four kids pretending to be Arctic Monkeys, or overweight spandex clad rockers constantly re-living the 80's then do yourself a favour and give this album a listen.
We don't scores albums out of ten on this site, but if we did, we'd need all our fingers and toes for this one!
- Jonathan Jones http://www.thefirst45.com