What is it about beach weather that makes bands sound so freakin’ good: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, 311, and now the Monks of Mellonwah. You heard right… Mellonwah. The MOM are the latest thing to come out of Sydney, Australia, and at the rate they’re going they’ll soon be making a splash in the States as well. The Monks have already toured the East Coast in 2012, playing at some of New Yorks most popular live music venues including: Lit Lounge and Mercury Lounge. They’ve won a slew of music awards including: 'Best International Rock Band' at the LA Music Awards and AIM Music Awards (2012), as well as being featured in CMJ, the Huffington Post, and Kings of A&R. Now they’re expected to release their debut album, Turn the People, March 15 of this year.
The Monks are sounding pretty impressive, but how’s the album? Turn the People is comprised of 12 songs including a short intro: 9 of the 12 are lifted from Sky and the Dark Night, Ghost Stories, and Afraid to Die (their 2013 EP’s), along with four new originals. The songs are a marvel of production magic, not in a Katy Perry/Rihanna sense, but in a shiny well put together alternative rock sense, á la Chili Peppers post Californiacation. This might have something to do with producer Keith Olsen lending a hand. Best known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, Fleetwood Mac, and Grateful Dead; Mr. Olsen produced a number of tracks including their hit single ‘Ghost Stories,’ an opener with clean guitar work and even cleaner vocals. Which seems to be a common thread throughout the album.
Fast-forward to the Monks’ other single, ‘Tear Your Hate Apart’ and you get crisp sounding guitar riffs coupled with evocative lyrics. The vocals are reminiscent of Brandon Boyd’s (Incubus), and the song as a whole has a powerful yet poignant cinematic sound, like it could be in the next transformers movie.
The title track, ‘Turn the People,’ is a busy song at first, but you begin to appreciate its complexity after a while. Vikram Kaushik (lead vocals) and Joe de la Hoyde (backing vocals/guitar) have a distinctive lyrical writing style similar to Anthony Kiedis’ (RHCP), and never is it more apparent than on this number.
It’s truly unfair to compare MOM to mega stars like Incubus and the Chili Peppers, but there’s such a striking resemblance it’s hard not to. And for obvious reasons, that works as a double-edged sword for this group. The cons: the album is simply less edgy, less original, and it doesn’t meet my expectations. There are songs on this album that grab me (‘Tear Your Hate Apart’ and ‘Vanity’), but they’re few and far between. The pros: to put out a debut album that compares with such mature sounds as the RHCP is basically unheard of today, it also displays the groups origins—their sound has a lineage and that’s good—also scarce today. Give Turn the People a listen… decide for yourself.