Good, solid Aussie rock rarely lets you down, and Monks of Mellonwah have delivered a debut full-length album of real quality with “Turn The People” (released March, 2014). This four-man band from Sydney has become a tight unit through lots of touring around the world in just the few years they’ve been together. Vikram Kaushik’s expressive vocals and the band’s ability to channel their influences into something original see them ahead of the game.
At the bottom of the world, Vikram, Joseph, Joshua and John tuned their collective antennae to the dramatic theatricality of Muse, the quirkiness of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the jazz groove of Incubus. This has been distilled into 13 immaculately produced tracks. “Turn The People” is a mature piece of work, its pure rock enhanced by thoughtful arrangements, including imaginative use of strings. If you just want to accompany it on air guitar, it’s a good album to bounce off, but there are lots of subtle moments. Sometimes, they surprise you. Lyrics have a sense of drama and are downbeat, for the most part, but it’s not a depressing record.
Opening with “Ghost Stories – Intro”, it’s a very short instrumental and a gentle introduction for what is to follow. This band has an ear for a catchy guitar hook, and they have been getting lots of airplay. “Ghost Stories” and “Afraid To Die” hook you in easily, but heavy guitar does its job well too, as on “Escaping Alcatraz” and “Downfall”. Their admiration of the Chilies is nowhere more apparent than on “Vanity”. In an obviously deliberate tip of the hat, Vikram sings in the unmistakable style of Anthony Kiedis. “Pulse”, which zings with tremulous keyboards, is also Kiedis-like in the verses. “Tear Your Hate Apart” is Muse-ish, with a soaring vocal and an epic feel.
Many rock bands have shared the magic with string sections over the decades. Here, the strings are not grafted on but are woven into songs as if they belong. “Alive For A Minute” has pleasing, complementary pizzicato strings, and the string arrangement on “Sky And The Dark Night – Part 2 – Control” forms a melodic undercurrent against the fret-busy guitars.
However, my favourite track is the most simple. “I Belong To You” is a beautiful acoustic ballad and a real treat. It’s different from everything else here, but you’ll be glad it’s there. With affecting lyrics and a great vocal, it really is a thing of beauty.
This is the kind of band you want to see live and the kind whose live performances will further cement their reputation. Meanwhile, this record will do sterling work in the quest to keep rock alive.
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