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CD Review: The Jonny Monster Band


Last Updated: 08/07/2013 4:27 pm

The Jonny Monster Band
The Jonny Monster Band
(2011, Independent)

Trafficking in the kind of amped-up, gutbucket electric blues rock perfected by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter, New Paltz trio the Jonny Monster Band puts forth a convincing take on a venerable style on its self-titled debut. Comprised of guitar maestro Jonny Monster (aka John Klenck) and bass player Rob Kissner of Hudson Valley reggae/rocksteady faves the Big Takeover, along with drummer Roger LaRochelle, the JMB wrings every last drop of emotion from the blues rock rag on the 10 tracks featured on this long player. Monster/Klenck has the world-weary, cigarettes-and-alcohol vocals that suit this material just fine. Songs like “Drunken Joke” and “Bad Cream” are set at a lurching, lugubrious pace, all the better for some serious, note-bending solos that give convincing resonance to lyrics of lives shattered on the rocks of booze, smokes, and bad romance.

The up-tempo numbers are some of the best on the album. “Whiskey and Smoke” features some visceral, slashing slide guitar swathed in a buzz of distortion. “Not So Magic” opens with a funky bit of drum kit bashing, giving way to some great bass-guitar interplay amid multiple tempo changes. “Money Tree” has the kind of focused shuffle that recalls the sides cut for Sun Records by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. Closing track “We Could Rule” features the best dynamics of any song, with a slinky bass line, catchy riff, and an intensity that gains momentum to a climax of squalling, feedback-drenched guitar pyrotechnics.

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