Monkeyjunk review…September 26, 2013…

MONKEYJUNK

ALL FREQUENCIES

STONY PLAIN CD   SPCD 1366

YOU MAKE A MESS–RIGHT FROM WRONG–WHY ARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT?–JE NAH SAY KWAH–SIRENS IN THE NIGHT–YEARNIN FOR YESTERDAY–ONCE HAD WINGS–WHAT I GOT TO GIVE–SAY WHAT!–SWANK

 

Canadian blues trio Monkeyjunk–Steve Marriner on vocals, harp, keys, and baritone guitar, Tony D on lead guitar, and Matt Sobb on drums—took their name from a chance remark by Son House, who once proclaimed, “I’m talkin’ about the blues–I ain’t talkin’ about monkey junk!”  They are multiple Juno Award winners north of the border, and won the Blues Award in 2010 for Best New Artist Debut.

For their third album, “All Frequencies,” on the Stony Plain label, the fellows push the envelope by experimenting with a more original sound with varying influences throughout the nine originals and one cover, always staying true to their blues roots.

Also of note is the vintage equipment on which this set was recorded, and the band’s lack of a full-time bassist.  Steve uses a custom-made baritone guitar instead, and that, along with the analog equipment, gives this album a full, rich sound.

Check out the opening barrage of guitar salvos on “You Make A Mess of me,” featuring a cool wah-wah solo from Tony D sandwiched between Steve’s lyrics of a lover who has him “at your command, like open sesame.’  “Je Nah Say Kwah” butchers the French language, but is still a trippy, soul-blues tale of a mystical lover found after a shipwreck, and finds Steve blowin’ some Stevie Wonder-inspired harp herein.

The fellows take some different looks at love on this set, too.  Steve realizes all too late that he was “wrong wrong wrong and she’s gone gone gone” in the blues-rock of “Yearnin For Yesterday,” while Tony D breaks out the slide in the Delta stylings of “What I Got To Give.”

We had three favorites, too.  The band’s look at our own mortality, “Once Had Wings,” has overtones of Appalachian folk, while a stripped-down, swampy, echo-laden arrangement changes the scope of the original on a sweet cover of Bobby Charles’ “Why Are People Like That?”  And, just imagine if Hendrix had jammed with Booker T. and the MG’s and you’ll get the gist of the set-closing instrumental, seven minutes of pure organ, guitar, and percussive bliss, “Swank.”

With each album, Monkeyjunk continue not only to improve, but to boldly send their brand of blues to new and astounding heights.  They are indeed hittin’ on “All Frequencies” with this one!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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