Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Photo: Courtesy of IVPR

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few
Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few

Independent

19 June 2020

According to recent polls, Americans are having more sex in the daytime than ever before. The conventional wisdom says this is likely because people are stuck home during the recent pandemic and have an increased opportunity to do so. Why wait until nighttime when one is tired? You and your partner are stuck home with each other and have little else to do. The same surveys suggest Americans are also doing more day drinking than ever, presumably for similar reasons. Why wait for happy hour? A little whiskey in the coffee takes the edge off doing chores, and who's to complain. Your boss can't smell your breath over Zoom.

Whatever. We are living during weird times, and doing whatever it takes to find pleasure as thousands of people die from COVID-19 every day, there are serious protests in the streets, and many people are just waiting for the third shoe to drop. Pass the bottle and get a little bit closer, honey. These seem to be sensible words of advice. The question is, what music best serves as the soundtrack for this behavior? Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few have provided the answer on their eponymous release.

The album has a slinky, sultry vibe. Erik Telford's horns slither over Mas Palermo's steady beats on drums that snap like background music to a burlesque show without the rim shots. Brent Wilson's bass keeps the pulse steady while T. Jarrod Bonta piano decorates the proceedings with bumps and grinds on the keys. Meanwhile, Warden's suave vocals preside over the whole affair and keep things smooth. The music flows. It's velvety more than slick and allows one to get lost in the mix effortlessly.

There are references to drinking, such as the celebratory "Martini", and life's erotic desires like the appropriately titled "Joy". There's nothing heavy going on in the lyrics. Even the odes to romance, best exemplified by "Not Since Love Come Along", keep things from becoming too serious. Warden drawls his affection to show that slow and steady feelings triumph over wild emotions. He's sophisticatedly unsophisticated as suggested by the awkward grammar of the song's title in a way reminiscent of the wordplay of Cole Porter and the classic American songbook composers. All the songs here are originals. What may appear to be erroneous is just a way of bringing attention to the main point—love has arrived.

Even when things get more instrumentally and vocally intense, notably on "Schadenfreude", the emphasis is more on the narrator's pleasure than on the other person's problems. Monte and the band indulge in decadent declarations for their amusement the way one would laugh heartily laugh at someone tripping on a banana peel. The consequences (a broken back?) don't matter as much as the initial delight of watching someone fall.

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few regularly perform together, and this shows in the evenness of their interactions. The album was recorded live in two days without overdubs, fixes or tunings added. While this may be most apparent on the jauntier tracks, the slow and easy "Missing Us Most of All" showcases this on another level as it reveals not only can the players jam together, they also know when to keep quiet. Sometimes a silent smile means more than a noisy laugh.

The best way to listen to Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few would be with sitting close to the one you're with and holding a frosty cocktail. Let the mood emerge naturally from one's circumstances. There's no reason to rush forward. The world is in a state of flux, but there is always time for temperate indulgences.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

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.