Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

It's Only Us
Monophonics

Colemine Records

13 March 2020

The Bay Area's indelible psychedelic soul, live-show phenomenon, Monophonics have just released their third full-length, It's Only Us. It combines the raw funk and sheer power of early soul masters with a touch of mind-bending effects in a dub-like vein. Singer Kelly Finnigan and company are calling it as they see it about the common day political state and the overwhelming sense of loneliness. Perhaps from the powers that be, perhaps not even in a political lean, but the theme strikes home for many of us in this day and static age. A proper soul record that smokes from start to finish is a fine way to mitigate the norms, social and otherwise. Simply said, if you can make it past "Chances" without a repeat, you're dead inside.

With one of the best songs of 2020 starting things up, Monophonics stretch an eight-song record to its wildest abyss. Combining spacey build-ups with shuttering vocal effects is just part of the buttery slickness, reminiscent of early Impressions mixed with latter-day Curtis Mayfield too, and a touch of Isaac Hayes, after the acid, of course. Using them as building blocks but completing the assembly in their own sonic fashion with horns aplenty and a rhythm section well-versed in the sanctifications of their predecessors but deep diving to make a sound their own. It's hard to put into words, but there are plenty of folks labeling themselves sweet soul and the numerous other morphs thereof, but there are few who come correct and keep it exactly where it should be in sound and spirit.

The brothers Cole not only record and produce quite a few of them but they're becoming the nucleus of most of it all anymore. They've been mining gold out of Colemine Records for quite some time now, having given the light of day to the initial Durand Jones and the Indications offerings, Ikebe Shakedown, and Soul Scratch, not to mention countless seven-inch singles all within the same realm. If that's a new label name for you, your diligence is due. Monophonics are most definitely a keystone, even coming from out in California, a bird's distant fly from the label's Loveland, Ohio headquarters. Birds of a feather flock together in the means of shaking tail feathers. Monophonics produced this one at Transistor Studios, straight to tape, no doubt.

Monophonics stretch things out a bit as they go off on psychedelic rock-inspired runs. Among the best are "Last Man Standing" an over seven-minute stretch of the band's legs and late-sequenced banger "Run For Your Life" with a heady hook and spaced-out synth bridge, only half as much in time, but equal in message and posterity. The hypnotic percussions accentuate Finnigan's vocal while the fuzzed up guitar and bass chop reverb into cutlets amidst a trap-slapping clinic, keeping time but perpetuating cool while keeping it hot.

A sensible slab of true rock 'n' soul, highly remarkable that Kelly Finnigan just released and indelible solo effort a short time back, while I have it on good word that there's a third full-length forming in the abyss as the world crumbles around us. It truly is Only Us at this moment in time. A prophetic title, a listen or two could actually be the antidote.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.