CD REVIEW: Monks of Mellonwah - Stars are Out (EP)
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Monks of Mellonwah
Alternative Rock, Rock
Weakness: Cover Art, Mix, Liner Notes
NOTE: 10 star rating are reserved only for Full Length CD's.
Sydney Australia’s own “Monks of Mellonwah” release their latest 5 song EP entitled Stars are Out in 2011. Band members include Will Maher (Vocals), Joe de la Hoyde (Guitar), John de la Hoyde (Bass), Josh Baissari (Drums and Backing Vocals). These guys are no stranger to the Music Business having just won Best Indie Rock Band at the Artists In Music Awards in Los Angeles and nominated for Best International Act at the LA Music Awards.
The EP kicks things off with “Fire in the Hole” a dynamic intro piece that serves up driving rock rhythm, against rocking guitar groove, infectious harmonies and with catchy chorus. Track 2 “Swamp Groove” shifts gears a bit with its slamming R&B guitar groove against melodic vocal layering and harmonies against a grand slam chorus. This coupled with thought provoking lyrical content makes for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3 “Starts are Out” serves up more emotionally charged ditty with heartfelt vocals from Maher, against dynamic musical flow that flows and ebbs it’s way through to emotional fruition. As the EP slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical influences reminiscent of such classic acts as Jet, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes and even Lenny Kravitz. The music itself is a hot blend of alternative rock with a poppy-grunge jam band aftertaste. You will also notice amazing guitar licks, sizzling solos, interesting sonic effects, solid low end grooves against solid vocal harmonies layered everywhere. The songs themselves are short and sweet musical experiences. Maher is above the bar on all songs vocally and fills the sonic space unobtrusively. His voice at times reminds me a bit of Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Equally as impressive is the hot to the touch guitar work from Joe De la Hoyde with a playing style somewhere between classic grunge to highly charged alternative surf rock. I might add there are some amazing riffs and guitar solos on this EP. The overall 4 piece delivery is effective and possessing a high octane vibe. The writing and playing abilities are rock solid The EP ends with “Stampede” and The Calling” 2 dynamic finale pieces that are the prefect end of an EP of this caliber.
I’m not a fan of the cover art. Overall it fails to make any sort of meaningful connection with me. I don’t even know what it is and at the end of the day it’s just not very compatible with the band and its music. I apparently don’t get the marketability angle. Though the mix is adequate, it's not what I would call “Gold Standard” as its a bit bright and lacks continuity track for track. On a few songs the guitar is way to hot within the mix thus burying the vocals completely. These types of mixes are becoming more prevalent over the years and are really designed to maximize radio marketability. However at the end of the day they can become a real wear on the ears if you listen to the whole album. There are no liner notes within the EP fold out panels that would indicate who the assigned Engineers were. Ironically the 2 panel fold out display is completely blank – not typical of a top-tiered professional band within the recording industry. I also typically take off a star for EP releases as the Full Length release provides a more complete picture of what a band is capable of behind the glass.
Overall the latest EP from Monks of Mellonwah is a solid debut release. Indeed this band has yet to prove themselves as real contenders but I Will say they sho much in the way of promise and potential. At the end of the day – they are a just a fun band to listen to, hang out with or check out live. This release clearly proves where there is smoke - there is fire. I can’t wait to check out their full length soon.