Reviews: Monster Magnet & Thurston Moore Band
Monster Magnet –
Milking The Stars: A
Re-Imagining of the Last Patrol
In 2013 Monster Magnet released ‘The Last Patrol’ which received largely favorable critical acclaim. Its inherently classic sound (unfortunate cliched adjectives like throwback, retro, nostalgic) stood out really well, though it’s something that Dave Wyndorf and Monster Magnet have been doing all along. Some even claim that the ‘nostalgic’ nature of their music is the largest reason the band never found lasting commercial success in the ‘mainstream’. They have survived throughout the industry changes that doomed so many others due to tenacity and Wyndorf’s exceptional songwriting ability. ‘Milking The Stars: A Re-Imagining of the Last Patrol’ is almost exactly as the title asserts – it is, in fact, a reworking of 2013’s ‘The Last Patrol’.
When trying to explain ‘Milking The Stars’ a reimagining of ‘The Last Patrol’ is the literally the simplest answer to give with reference to the basic concept, but it is its own entity that exists completely separate from its predecessor. All of the songs from ‘The Last Patrol’ are still there but three additional tracks show up as well. Essentially all of the music that reappears has been altered in one way or another by Wyndorf alone. The addition of elements like the presence of Mellotron, traditional organs, more natural sounding wah and fuzzing effects give ‘Milking The Stars’ a more in depth, psych trip inspired by and reminiscent of music the way it was done in the late 60s/early 70s. When listening to ‘Milking The Stars,’ if you close your eyes and imagine a great bygone era in American rock ‘n’ roll, you could easily picture the guys in the band all playing together in one big studio room on large oriental rugs and slightly hazy with smoke and incense, looking at one another feeding off of the innate energy the music is creating. Except for a more niche subgenre, rock ‘n’ roll music doesn’t really sound like this anymore. Like the hypothetical band in the big studio together, ‘Milking The Stars’ has a cool, unique energy that isn’t on a lot of records like this today. Its slow burning nature and staying power with an enhanced continuity create a twist on an already excellent album and story and achieves the obscure probability of bettering its predecessor.
The inability to appropriately categorize Monster Magnet has allowed them to be lumped in under the ‘stoner rock’ umbrella. The truth is that they are an American rock ‘n’ roll band obviously capable of exceptional songwriting and live execution. Wyndorf’s personal live charisma translates perfectly through these songs. This is why the band has existed, waded, and survived the emphatically unstable recording industry in the unique way that they have: they have the talent, presence, ability, and instinct.
Thurston Moore Band-
The Best Day
When one thinks of an artist who has been consistently successful because of an innate sense of creativity and a lack of regard for most musical limitations or standards, one might put Thurston Moore in such a category. Thurston Moore is an artist synonymous with extraordinary projects and the winding roads he’s traveled throughout his prolific career have made him the artist he is today. His musical tastes obviously reside across a gigantic artistic spectrum. Whether it be audio recordings, books, films, or any other form of expressive media, he’s always acknowledged a healthy respect for music. That passion is ever present on this, his second ‘solo’ release. “The Best Day” finds Moore’s experimentations with music and melodies differently in some ways than he’s engaged in previously – within realm of Sonic Youth and beyond. Though it is so that, at times, Moore handles all instrumentation completely, he’s assembled a talented cast of compatriots, including fellow band-mate Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), James Sedwards (Nought), and Deb Googe (My Bloody Valentine) to bring The Best Day to fruition,
A marriage of sonically tattered guitars along with delicate melodic handlings, can have an alluring effect, as this ultimately engaging collection of songs are worthy of a few listens for each one. The musical continuity of The Best Day merges an appropriate measure of Moore’s proven fundamental trademarks with some astute extraneous ideas that produce, at times, an abstract eloquence mingled with his top tier musical aptitude.
There exists a common thread of enticing expression throughout the whole of The Best Day. “Speak To the Wild”, is a strong, and intelligent, track with a ‘classic’ appeal not only makes a good first impression, but also serves as a smooth segue into “Forevermore”; a subtle song carried by an understated driving core rhythm. Cuts like “Tape” and “Vocabularies” are rich examples of Moore’s own seemingly limitless artistic capabilities when he takes complete control, and many of the pre-existing Sonic Youth/Thurston Moore adherents will find some familiarities in the music and execution in cuts like “Detonation” and “Grace Lake”. Likewise, “Gems Burn”-an interesting creation with curious soft touches fused with a quasi-punk like attitude in the vocal delivery-and the title track, which has a hint of classic rock & roll in its invocation, have an easy accessibility and subtlety that could accommodate the more casual or novel listeners.
Littered with whimsical sonic bits the album certainly has its effortlessness moments. Trademarks utilized to give Sonic Youth its essential and unique aural appeal are somewhat evident, though the regular employment of softer approaches and more ‘traditional’ factors provide melodies and songs that are somewhat more emotional and thoughtful than they are challenging to the boundaries of sonic frequencies. The Best Day is wrought with favorable characteristics allowing one to observe and absorb the variety of constituents working together in every song as the album comes together in a really natural way.