Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Mona @ The Sugarmill 7th March 2011

Review by Sian Eardley

Photo by Martin Kaluza

Well, Monday 7th March will go down in music as quite a special day indeed. Not only had Elbow released their fifth studio album ‘Build a Rocket Boys’, which as if wasn’t enough excitement for one day to just sit in awe and wonderment at whilst playing, but the magnificent Mona was in town. And hey, with the amount of guys in line outside in checkered shirts, it was only too obvious that someone was playing. And, not on every occasion am I fortunate to say that even the support act: ‘Tape the Radio’ were superb. Full of sensual bass tones, they’re every inch tactile; you can very easily communicate with their sound; grab it, throw it around yourself and immerse yourself in it.
Imagine a sound similar to Bloc Party, but with a more complex orchestration, live, they hold they hold the energy of the early TCTC days, they had the drive of 1990’s Manics by pushing the boundaries in experimental sound, and had a hold over the crowd like the aura of the recently deceased Oceansize. The live experience of this band was incredible, they make me want to submerge my head in a water bath of Tape the Radioness, and would probably make for good listening at that hybrid of time at 1am on a Sunday morning, when partly wasted or suffering from afflictions of the heart. Recommended is their most recent single release: ‘Our Love is a Broken Heart’, and the beautifully dark ‘Heartache and Fear’ – available for free download on and is also the title track to their debut album, to be unleashed on April 2nd 2011.

Mona! Mona! Mona! I fear I underestimated their capabilities. I was expecting big things – another band tipped to be big for the year; and coming with the Kings of Leon attached stereotype, also hailing from that part of the world, they’re actually more thrilling and fresher, and I never, ever expected to fall in love with their sound!

Jumping straight into it with ‘Trouble on the Way’ – this is what we’ve been waiting for on the alternative scene. It’s unique and invigorating, and hits you in a personal way. More bolshie than BRMC, and as gigantic in sound as ‘Bartender and the Thief’, it’s the second band in one night that just blew me away. It’s got a country rolling chorus with a slight twang of ‘King of the Rodeo’, these guys still make it their own with added ‘oooomph!’, whilst being very proud of their roots which helps to produce their distinctive sound.

‘Teenager’ is full of big, big guitars for those who are six-string fans, permeating all the angst and energy of Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Pain’, and I’m telling you, it only takes once for you to hear every song and know it instinctively. Not many accomplished bands achieve this, but here are these young and talented gentlemen who are doing just that. Marvellous. This is what you find with ‘Listen to Your Love’ – you ears prick up instantly (again I hate to use the comparison as they’re better in their own right, but think of the intro to ‘Sex on Fire’) – it burns in you and compels you to move. This IS the summer anthem of 2011, guaranteed. They’re new and stimulating, and it’s full of bass and addictive lyrics and reeling guitars more inspirational than that of Editors, to create landscapes of sound and Nick Brown’s vocals are impeccable and husky. Even the video to the track says it’s ‘to be played loud’ – (and yes you are legally obliged to check it out!), and it couldn’t be more fitting. It’s the only way to satisfy the craving for more Mona. Forget ‘The Vaccines’ and other hot newbies ‘The Naked and Famous’, this is Mona’s year. I’m fully backing these guys: you can see yourself cruising in the summer, friends in the passenger seats on the way to any of the fantastic festivals with this on full blast, and absolutely loving it. These trashy love songs will be classic and not throwaway efforts, and that’s quite a skill to have.

And, just when the crowd thought Mona couldn’t possibly pull anything else out of the bag, ‘Shoot the Moon’ came roaring out of the speakers. This song WILL change your life. ‘A bold statement?’ you cry, well listen for yourselves; look up their performance of this little stunner at Liverpool Academy (8/3/11) on YouTube. How the duck did Ryan Adams miss an opportunity to create something like this? It’s sonorous, it’s audacious, and it’s sultry, provocative, and positively infectious. Vocals and solicitude all caught up in a whirlwind of phenomenal sound, was like watching a young Lindsey Buckingham let loose on stage. This song would definitely have Caleb Followill quaking in his little cowboy boots.

And, if that wasn’t even enough, there was an encore, which at the time seemed pretty non-sensical as they just threw a top performance and how could they possibly better that with a few more tunes? Well, they sure did. Out they came with stories of Nashville, Tennessee, and spending time at the Cash family farm (yes, THE Johnny Cash), and tore it up with rocky rhythms ten times better than KOL’s ‘Four Kicks’, transforming The Sugarmill into an American Rock Bar – the likes of ‘Roadhouse’…almost!

Mona are my favourite band for the year (even creeping into my personal music favourites), and I’m sure they’ll find a way into your hearts upon listen. They’re going to be huge, which was evident from as little as three songs in, and their journey is bound to be brilliant, I’m just sorry to everyone who missed this tonight!

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