(One of the best bands, singer or not, that’s come around my earholes in a very long time is Ottawa, Canada’s MONOBROW. These dudes play the shit out of their gear with such flavor that my head jerked around towards their sound the first time I heard it. Each of them is a wizard with their instrument, giving us riffage and tone filled with buttery fuzznastics and riff alchemy. My pals Gary and Randy have been and will always be huge fans of this instrumental stoner trio, and, about a year ago, they had a rather odd evening involving the band. Remember, this happened over a year ago, so yes Big Sky has been released and you can find it here. Gary and Randy are fucktards supreme, but add Chad into the mix, and shit always goes down. Enjoy. – FATS)
Although I grew up in the West End, I have lived downtown for half my life. On my walk to work each day, I walk by the rooming house that Chad lives in. In fact, I think it was I who initially introduced Chad to Gary. You see, Chad sure does like his hash, and anyone who is anyone knows that Gary has the best hash in town. You see, Chad gets one monthly cheque from the government to live off. Chad is what you might call a “Three Day Millionaire”; he lives the high life for 3 days, pays his bills and lives very broke for the remainder of the month until the next cheque arrives. For the past week now, as the end of the month draws closer, Chad has sat on his front steps and waited for the post. While I walked to work on this Friday morning, Chad was doing the happy dance, hugging the postman as he does each month on “chequeday”. Today is chequeday.
BURIED IN THE BACKYARD by MONOBROW from S/T (MONOBROW)
We don’t actively try to avoid Chad, but his Jekyll and Hyde act over his 3 days of debauchery each month continually leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Being caught up in the jumping-up-and-down happiness, I blurted out an invitation to come over this evening to check out the new Monobrow album with Gary, Randy, and I, before we went to see them live at The House of Targ later that night. I immediately wished I could take it back, but before I could blink, Chad was already writing down a list of booze and food he was going to bring. The boys are going to kill me. It was likely that Gary would be hoping to see Chad this evening sometime anyway. It is best to get at him on the first day if he wanted a decent sale.
STORE HIGH IN TRANSIT / COMMUNING WITH THE INFINITE by MONOBROW from BENNINGTON TRIANGLE BLUES
The new Monobrow album, Big Sky, Black Horse, isn’t out yet, but my love of the band has compelled them to get me an advanced copy to listen to. If there was one local band that Gary absolutely loves, it’s Monobrow. Made up of three aliens from another planet, these groove masters use their bowel quaking riffs to magically grab your hash, break some off, and fill your pipe for you without you even lifting a finger. You sit back, and let the instrumental space rays blast you back into the couch. When the boys arrived, Gary was wearing his new homemade Monobrow shirt with an awesome picture of Bert from Sesame Street on it. As we stood on my front lawn laughing at the best rock shirt I’ve seen in a long time, up came Chad running with his arms full of beer, whiskey, and big bag of fried chicken. Gary and Randy both glared at me. I shrugged. Chad is a bit “slower” than Gary and Randy (yeah, that is scary), but he spends quite a bit of his cheque with Gary each month, and he has a car, which neither these two idiots can manage. So, he is tolerated. The fact is, Chad may only do it 3 days a month, but he sure knows how to party. If anyone likes a good party, it’s Gary and Randy.
BIG SKY, BLACK HORSE by MONOBROW from BIG SKY, BLACK HORSE
On our way up the stairs to my apartment, we pass my wife on her way out to the library. As she passes she mutters, “fucking idiots”. I shrug again. At the bottom of the stairs, Chad tries to carry all of his party supplies. We know he got it all for us, but none of us think to help him. I go to the bottom and grab the booze, but leave the chicken to him. Chad is wearing the t-shirt I found for him for his birthday last year. It’s a brown tan coloured shirt with the word CHAD in the center with the map of the republic in Central Africa. He likes it because it’s brown and has his name on it. We both win.
With bowls filled, we light up and settle back for some fresh magic riffage. Judging by the slightly closed-eyed head bobbing, the familiar guttural fuzz and bouncing swing of the first track Cicada is met with approval, but it’s the tasteful, almost jazz interlude at the halfway point in this track that launched my earholes to the next level. Paul (Slater) has always had an amazing gift for layering guitar parts, but it’s his subtle touches of 70s rock melody in this track that makes me smile. For any band that does not use vocals, to continually write songs that feel new or fresh can be difficult. Hell, that shit is hard for any band. In the track Hamartia, I love the fact that these guys have the guts to pull out an acoustic number on an album that is full of doom-filled riffs and echo chambers that growl inside your guts. This fearless disregard for the norms or the ‘shoulds’, when it comes to song writing, is probably the main reason why Monobrow are one of my favorite bands right now. The simple, yet tasteful, bass line in the title track Big Sky, Black Horse accent Sam Beydoun’s contribution to this madness. At one moment, the rhythm section, including Brian Ahopelto’s gift for tempo changes, has you pinned down under a large boulder, only to then release you slowly, as if to show you mercy and reassure you that the trip will be a peaceful one. Then, without warning, the band unites as one mothership and launches you back into madness. Chad has poured us all a 3-finger glass of Woodford Reserve, and now sits with a large whiskey in one hand and a greasy piece of chicken in the other. He is staring at the speakers. This is his first time with Monobrow and he clearly likes it. When this album is released, do yourself a favor and enjoy it with a full pipe at unsafe volumes. Trust me.
THE SURVEILLANCE by MONOBROW from BIG SKY, BLACK HORSE
The production on these albums gets better every time as well. Mr. Yogi, one of the wizards behind The House of Targ, has been working with Monobrow on all of their recordings, and has a keen understanding of the alchemy of sonic face melting, and uses all of his knobs and gadgets to ensure a successful spacecraft launching. By the end of the title track, the four of us are covered in chicken, quite drunk, and very, very stoned. Our ears are very happy, and we cannot wait to see this shit live on stage. Randy is wearing one of those old Guns and Roses t-shirts that had the G*n*f*R on the back. Hanging with these morons while he wears that shirt is priceless. I want to make a G*n*f*R shirt with their pictures on it. We roll a few for later, pack up, and head out for a night of instrumental wizardry at the ever-popular House of Targ. At the bottom of my steps, I stumble a bit, dropping my keys on the ground. When I bend over to pick them up, I can feel Randy’s hands on my hips and know he’s making a thrusting motion. Both of them are busting a gut over this. I look up, seeing only Chad’s ankles, and hear a horrendous scream from a woman walking by, accompanied by a screeching car…. (to be continued)