Representing Dallas, TX is the one and only Monkeysphere. Since their inception in 2013, they have been hard at work, releasing an LP last year, and an EP earlier this month. This 5-song collection of new tunes, entitled ‘Music For Awkward People to Dance To” deserves a listen. Shall we?
- “Dance Into the Void”- Appropriately named, the opening track starts with a spacey, psychedelic feel which is created by eerie horns, echo vocals and buzzing synthesizer. The song quickly turns into your typical upbeat ska tune. Way to step outside of the box! Grade: B
- “Taken Away”-Musically, this song is all over the map, but I dig it! Borrowing a little style from the B-52’s, with a touch of 70’s easy listening, some Frank Black of The Pixies fame, and some white-boy rap, and you have one of the most unique sounds I have reviewed. Grade: A-
- “Black Hole Dream”- After a brassy intro, “Black Hole Dream” follows the same interstellar motif as the first track. Overall this is a slower, grittier tune. Good stuff. Grade: A-
- “Come Back to the Show”- This is a straight up ska track with the standout being the powerful pipes of Zooki, the lead songstress. Grade: A-
- “Rude Boy Requiem”- With the horns a blazing, I really wanted to like this song. No matter how good a sound is musically, the vocals can totally ruin it for me. I’m sorry to say that this song did just that. Grade: C-
I must say that I have a bias towards female-fronted ska bands. I find that most of them have better singing chops than their male counterparts. This being said, it can be difficult to stand out in the crowd of so many great voices as well as being compared to the Gwens and the Moniques of ska’s 15 minutes of fame in the 1990’s. Not to take away from the auditory talent of Zooki (she has a great voice), Monkeysphere as a whole shines due to the unique nature of their sound. While “Rude Boy Requiem” fell flat with me personally, the rest the EP is pleasure on the ears. Using ska as the framework, the band does an excellent job at stirring imagery of grittiness, outer space and psychedelia. Is this an experimental album? Is this the album’s new direction? Only Monkeysphere knows, but I invite you, my fellow listeners, along for the ride!
Overall Grade: B+
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