Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Live

Monophonics + Crowd Company The Jazz Cafe Camden 16/06/2015

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Monophonics hit Camden running bringing some much needed sunny californian optimism to the capital and opening act Crowd Company set the mood with their breezy funk too, complete with three lead vocalists,a stonking horn section and just general groovy merriment,they acquitted themselves on what was turning out to be a full on funk fiesta. The scene was set for the main act to take centre stage.....

Monophonics steer a more interesting and varied course between funk, soul and US 60's garage and thereby escape being merely nostalgic or generic.They keep everything tight, showing brutal knockout efficiency that thrives on limber call-and-response riffs and unceasing percussive yet stop start motion.This is a band so tight and in tune with each other that they are basically telepathic titans ( I couldn't detect any cues given throughout the night!)

Their music catches you unawares leaving you vulnerable believe me! When they launched into their funky version of 'Bang Bang',I nearly had a heart attack brought on by excitable shock,completely badass stuff.They went the whole fifeteen rounds in no hurry to win the adoring london audience over,this was a long well measured show,highlighting their excellent new album,"Sound Of Sinning"full of bitter sweet love songs that ride on skulking great minor keys awash with tension,moodiness and a healthy dose of jealousy.

'Lying Eyes' (no not the Eagles dummy!) rocks the house an excellent paean to 60's rock soul. A real belter highlighting charismatic singer Kelly Finnegan's fine singing an impassioned and highly entertaining character who comes from cult stock.Kelly's dad is none other than Mike Finnigan (of serfs fame) and a man who played on Hendrix's jazztastic 'Rainy Day Dream Away' from Electric Lady Land.

The intensity keeps coming like a storm brewing and 'Holding Back Your Love' hits hard with special guest Shawn Lee (ping pong orchestra) twanging his 12 string electric, adding a touch of The Byrds type magic to the proceedings.

This band do 6/8 ballads like all good soul bands and 'Sound Of Sinning' is no exception hooky beyond belief as is 'Hanging On' a gorgeous slice of Northern Soul that reminded me of R. Dean Taylor at his best.The Monophonics are all about songwriting and they are pretty much masters of the 3min single,highly stylised with ever so correct guitar sounds (Chilites,Temptations Fuzz,Harrison's leslie guitar sound) and classic clav and organ sounds wacked out efficiently by singer Kelly who I've nicknamed the new sultan of sweat! He sweats more than Sam & Dave combined!

No terse jams here just well honed honesty and a touch of physchedelica ( well they are from California!) They have almost perfectly nailed the mid to late 1960s - sound with bass, guitar, keys and punchy horns courtesy of topflight UK session musos Paul Jordanous and Ben Greenslade -Stanton.Their bright spacious reverb sound reminds me of classic Stax sessions, and basic old-school mixing techniques,(which this old hack particulary likes! )

The double hitter of Funkadelic's 'I'd Be Nowhere Today' and 'I Got A Thing' rammed home their funk credentials and topped a really great evening.This was a particularly special evening.I highly advise you check out their album'Sound Of Sinning'.It's fast becoming essential listening in my household.
PHOTOS EMRYS BAIRD
Words Emrys Baird

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