From deep in the cosmos of Iowa comes a force known as Mondo Drag! With a wall of sound all their own, an arsenal of guitars, and a head full of clouds, they are on a rock n roll mission all their own. With songs of life, death, love, revenge, and the unknown, they are flying head first into the future with an anchor of reference for the past. Channeling artists like Pink Floyd, Pentagram, Blue Cheer, even Hendrix just to skip decades for hints of Sonic Youth, Dead Meadow, and Comets on Fire.
The band released their debut album 'New Rituals' on Alive Records in early 2010 and have been touring heavily since. This year has seen Mondo Drag touring from coast to coast supporting acts like: Sleepy Sun, Black Mountain, The Black Keys, Wooden Shjips, The Growlers, High On Fire, Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Sweet Apple, and many others.
John Gamino - Vocals / Keyboard
Nolan Girard - Vocals, Guitar
Jake Sheley - Guitar
Holy Spirit LP (self released)
New Rituals (Alive Records)
Mondo Drag: New Rituals
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Hailing from the psychedelic hotbed of, uh, Davenport, Iowa, this stomping five-piece recalls the da...Hailing from the psychedelic hotbed of, uh, Davenport, Iowa, this stomping five-piece recalls the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth… namely the mid-‘70s, when Led Zeppelin crossed bombast, prog, and cherry-picked mythology to conjure up epics like “Achilles’ Last Stand”. So yes, Mondo Drag boldly goes where many others have gone before on the ironically-titled New Rituals, but the band pulls it off with aplomb, as well as with the requisite saxophones and keyboards, from the swaggering, start-stop rhythms of “Light as a Feather” to the jazzy Deep Purplisms of “Fade Out”, the glam boogie of “Serpent Shake” and the pastoral “Black River”. While some songs are little more than excuses to jam for five-plus minutes (viz., “The Apple”), the band—led by lead guitarist Jake Sheley and bassist Dennis Hockaday—can really bring it, and rarely devolve into stoner rock drudgery/wankery. Mondo Drag may be dwelling in the genre ghetto of ‘70s psych/hard rock revivalism, but damned if they don’t do it well.
Mondo Drag – New Rituals (Alive)
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I’m sure a lot of folks consider California to be the physical and spiritual home of psychedelic roc...I’m sure a lot of folks consider California to be the physical and spiritual home of psychedelic rock, but let’s face it: often the best mind-trippers come from places with no glittering array of city lights, stars (of every type) and constant activity to distract them. Take, for example, MONDO DRAG, an acid-fried quintet that hails from the deepest Midwest – specifically Davenport, Iowa. The band displays the usual plumage on New Rituals – distortion and feedback, hazy melodies, a dreamlike atmosphere, acoustic ephemera. But despite treading well-worn ground, the Draggers make it sound fresh, rather than hackneyed – likely the virtue of having no scene to get lost in. Muscular and melodic, Mondo Drag kicks out the new/old jams.
Mondo Drag at Springwater
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Davenport, Iowa's Mondo Drag (formerly known as Holy Smokes) are proof that good bands — and records...Davenport, Iowa's Mondo Drag (formerly known as Holy Smokes) are proof that good bands — and records — can germinate in the most oddball of surroundings. In fact, their material seems to suggest that what's needed to make good music is not a hopping music scene so much as a killer record collection. One might guess that Davenport, then, has a plethora of good thrift stores and yard sales given Mondo Drag’s latest release, New Rituals. Filled with five-minute-plus cuts of pure blues/psych/sludge, New Rituals conjures up a stew of influence: early Pink Floyd, Pentagram and, says the band, any of about 20 forever-thought-lost-to-the-ether records the band collectively happens upon in a given week. For a band whose sound can eerily echo some of the better fuzz blooze of days past, there is a consistent growth and newness to each of their releases. (Pink Floyd grew from record to record too, you'll remember.) Let's hope Springwater has had a structural engineer pop by in the last year or two — Mondo err more on the Black Mountain side of psych but don't forget the Black Sabbath either.
Mondo Drag - New Rituals 
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Deep from the interstellar space of a Pink Floydesk planet (Davenport, Iowa) a spaceship called MOND...Deep from the interstellar space of a Pink Floydesk planet (Davenport, Iowa) a spaceship called MONDO DRAG lands on the earth. The heavy psych rockers celebrate NEW RITUALS with a hulking wall of sound, an arsenal of guitars and a head full of clouds. They are on a journey through time from the future into the past to recruit their followers persuading them with extended psychedelic blues guitar jams and haunting vocals over heavy, steady bass lines and thumping percussion. The blue cheering crowd standing on the black mountain freaks out and dance into a transcendent state of trance listening MONDO DRAG's intoxicating music. Does time run backwards in other universes? Yes, in the MONDO DRAG universe it does. Our universe may be part of a much larger multiverse, which as a whole is time-symmetric.
Formed by Johnnie Cluney (drums/vocals), Nolan Girard (rhythm guitar/vocals), John GAmino (keyboards/saxophone), Dennis Hockaday (bass), and Jake Sheley (lead guitar) MONDO DRAG has created a strange brew of garage, psych, space, sludge and stoner rock. Mission accomplished!
CD Review: Mondo Drag's New Rituals
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The Deal: Iowa psych-rock quintet releases its debut CD. The Good: Mondo Drag's 11-track sonic ad...The Deal: Iowa psych-rock quintet releases its debut CD.
The Good: Mondo Drag's 11-track sonic adventure needs multiple listens to take it all in. The band hits you with an approach that lands somewhere between The Doors and Jane's Addiction – hints of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd in there too – with songs that are more musically-driven than lyrically-dominated. The disc opens up with a 40-second wave of feedback kicking off the nine-minute title track. By the time the drums get rolling, the guitar licks soak in and the keyboards march through in some kind of beach music send-off, the music as a whole has already started to melt your face off. Haunting vocals from drummer/singer Johnnie Cluney and guitarist/singer Nolan Girard carry the listener further as blues guitar jams are unleashed. It's psychedelic rock with a raw heart that mixes up the genres without the polish or attitude, as if some band from the '70s woke up in 2010 and decided there really was no reason to grow with the time and just do what they do best. And that's just the first track! Hints of saxophone are complimentary instead of a distraction on the bluesy, Hendrix-esque "Light As a Feather." "Fade Out" sounds like Perry Farrell singing over a Hendrix-ian groove. "Love Me (Like a Stranger)" adds in a smattering of The Mars Volta. The band gets acoustic on "Come Through" and "Black River."
The Bad: I'm not crazy about the the poor man's Sgt. Pepper album cover.
The Verdict: This one's worth picking up and listening to over and over and over... Forget the top 10, this one's a lock for top five of 2010.
Sleepy Sun + Mondo Drag at Double Door: Live Review
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The sounds of ’70s rock are alive and well, as demonstrated by the groups who took the stage at Thur...The sounds of ’70s rock are alive and well, as demonstrated by the groups who took the stage at Thursday night’s show at the Double Door. Opening band Mondo Drag evoked the heavy riffs of Black Sabbath as well as the intricate melodies of prog-rock purveyors such as Camel. The recent Alive Records signees turned in a performance that, while heavily influenced by their forebearers, suggested a proficiency that stretched beyond their chosen genre. Enhancing the psychedelic vibe of their set was an old-school oil projection, accomplished with the aid of a commonplace classroom overhead projector.
Californian rockers Sleepy Sun unleashed a different strain of nostalgia on-stage, playing tracks heavily indebted to the bluesy sound of groups like Jefferson Airplane and Cream. Their set included a healthy dose of cuts from their latest release Fever, including the dreamy dirge “Marina” and the soaring, riff-filled “Open Eyes”. The band lost the audience a bit during some of their slower numbers, but lead vocalist Bret Constantino made sure to remind the crowd “Don’t worry, we’re still a rock band”. That statement was aptly proven with the group’s final song, the expansive “Sandstorm Woman”; a consummate closing to an evening that was an affirmation of how old sounds can yield fresh new results.
Mondo Drag "New Rituals" Review
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Mondo Drag came out of nowhere for me, I discovered them because they were recently added to Roadbur...Mondo Drag came out of nowhere for me, I discovered them because they were recently added to Roadburn and I read a lot of positive things. “New Rituals” has become a favorite from the first listen and probably will be for most fans of psychedelic rock. The album begins with the title track. The intro is really spacey, slowly gaining focus until it explodes into this sun drenched surf rock stomp with awesome keys. The vocals are very smooth but the real focus is on the music. Expect a lot of interstellar jams throughout.
“Fade Out (Into Space)” hits you immediately with a powerful groove and soaring vocals. This is definitely one of the best shorter tracks on the record and has great energy that dissipates in a slow feedback drenched solo. It’s easy to see the band’s influences run deep into the 60’s and 70’s haze of Cream, Pink Floyd, Blue Cheer and Hendrix. Speaking of Floyd, “Serpent Shake” and “Love Me (Like a stranger)” makes use of the organ in all the right ways. You couldn’t really ask for better production, it still feels very 60s/70s but without sacrificing any quality. “Come On Through” has a trippy blues vibe going on, it’s very catchy.
Mondo Drag has a lot in common with some of the new wave of psychedelic bands, both from the stoner rock side and the shoegaze side of it. Bands like Dead Meadow have a lot in common here and I’m sure some of that comes from the two bands touring together. Mondo Drag more of a diverse sound than many of their peers and they really layer the instruments well. While their sound is easily classified under psychedelic rock, there is a larger range of sounds covered here than the average band in this style. The vocals compliment the sound well and never overpower the music. The only downside to some would be the difficulty had making out the words over the fuzz.
“Black River” is a beautiful instrumental, the acoustic guitar, light keys and flute mesh together to create a really beautiful soundscape. Basically, the whole album is pure psychedelic joy and I see this getting heavy rotation as spring comes along. I know it has only begun but far as 2010 is concerned, this is my top album. This album is highly recommended to anybody with a taste for rock music in general.
Mondo Drag - New Rituals (2010 LP)
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Hailing from Iowa, somewhere in the middle of the USA comes Mondo Drag, a psychedelic rock outfit an...Hailing from Iowa, somewhere in the middle of the USA comes Mondo Drag, a psychedelic rock outfit and their freshly released LP, New Rituals.
The album begins with the nine minute long title track ‘New Ritual’, encapsulating all the different appeals this band presents in their music. With moments of choppy punk rock-like vocals, a mix of sharp, distorted and windy psychedelic guitar work and an enthusiastic keyboard melody thrown in for good measure, this opener shows what Mondo Drag are all about. Following is the bass-heavy ‘Fade Out (Into Space)’. Evoking Black Sabbath, it’s a short but catchy tune; a good rock and roll song.
‘True Visions’ slows down the tempo and drawls out from the speakers, vocals echoing out and around the intricate yet fuzzed-out guitar, before flawlessly falling into ‘My, Oh My’. ‘Love Me (Like a Stranger)’ is a lamenting love song with the same mellow feeling as Dead Meadow, but you can feel something crawling underneath it all.
‘Lights as a Feather’ begins with a guitar riff straight out of Mr Hendrix’s own book, as much as it pains me to make such an easy and lazy comparison, though then floats into a trippy keyboard jam of bizarre space-like noises. ‘Black River’, my personal favourite from the album, pulls out the acoustic guitar for some fast-paced flamenco-esque action, before the seven minute long epic ‘Apple’ rounding it all together with a Darker My Love reminiscent rock song laced with a pop sensibility to leave a lasting impression and one last elongated smokey dream-sequence to walk out of.
Mondo Drag’s New Ritual brings together spacious 1970’s jams with a punk rock aggression, giving it a contemporary appeal. The 11 tracks together create a harsh but romantic landscape that I can only imagine would take on even more life when witnessed live.
Mondo Drag: New Rituals
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Mondo Drag are a new band – or should I say "bunch of hippies"? – from Iowa making their debut on re...Mondo Drag are a new band – or should I say "bunch of hippies"? – from Iowa making their debut on record with their first album New Rituals. One look at the artwork will not deceive you – this music is firmly rooted in the "summer of love" groove of the late sixties and includes influences from the early seventies. The band themselves claim to have also been influenced by some more recent bands, but they must be those whose own links to this early rock era is so strong as to make no difference to the sound - New Rituals is very "retro". It's a "classic" sound of course, and the band do it justice – it's a good album.
The band comprises Johnnie Cluney (drums, vocals), John Gamino (keyboards, saxophone), Nolan Girard (rhythm guitar, vocals), Dennis Hockaday (bass), Jake Sheley (lead guitar), with support from Bambi Suits on vocals and Skye Merhle-Carrasco on violin.
The music is a dense wall of a conglomeration of psychedelic and space rock. At its most effective, with the Hammond blazing away, it sounds like a cross between Deep Purple, Hawkwind and Spirit - thinking of these bands' late sixties/early seventies periods of course.
It's well played and sung, without there being any individual performance that really stands out, grabbing you by the throat. As such, this album will remain one only for keen fans of this particular period's music. Incidentally, the album is available in a red vinyl version, for those of you keen on that sort of nostalgia.
On The Decks - Mondo Drag
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Hello…good morning…afternoon…or evening where ever you may be and welcome to the first of what will ...Hello…good morning…afternoon…or evening where ever you may be and welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many installments of ON THE DECKS, the little corner of the blog scene, where I, dave w. of White Hills fills you in on what I’ve been listening to. Some might ask, why does your opinion matter…I ask the same question, but when Johnny O. of Rocket Recordings approached me about doing this, I thought why not…I mean isn’t one of the best things about music getting turned on to something new? Well, that is what I hope to achieve with this blog thing. In no way do I consider myself a journalist, but I am a lover of music and I love telling people about what floats my boat musically…so here it goes.
Alright…about two months ago I went to the Knitting Factory in NYC to see some friends play…La Otracina and Plastic Crimewave Sound. There was a third band on the bill that I have never heard of called Mondo Drag. Not knowing anything about Mondo Drag I arrived at the end of their set. Much to my surprise the 10 minutes of their set I saw blew the pea pod that I call my mind. Loud…expansive…swirling delays…and duel guitar battling…to put it simply…AMAZING! I was so taken back by what I saw, I purchased the CD, “Holy Spirit”, that they had for sale that night.
HOLY SPIRIT is a massive album that floats in and out of heavy riff based rockers, ethereal numbers, and mind melting jams full of electric hum and swirling electronics. Mondo Drag is one of those unique bands that has a somewhat retro-feel, but has both of their feet firmly planted in the here and now. In no way is this album a re-hash of era’s gone by. HOLY SPIRIT is a sonic blast of contemporary riff rock at it’s best.
The album kicks off with a trio of songs that, to me, have the feel that they are one. The track, Holy Spirit, commences the trip. It’s a drone summonsing the listener into the void. Autumn Sun kicks in quickly after and raises the bar. It’s a mid tempo, loose rocker that quickly devolves into a swirling psychedelic mess of synthesizer madness and then kicks back in with a motorik stomp. Vocals swirl in a sea of delay…not so much overtaking the song…but just adding another layer of swirling madness. Light As a Feather follows and is another foray into dueling guitar leads and freaked out synths laid over a burnt out blues based riff that in no way sounds cliché.
Other highlights of the record include the epic instrumental, Death Rattles, that features some great dueling guitar. Black River, is an acoustic romp that would fit right in on Led Zeppelin III. My Oh My reminds of Peter’ Green Fleetwood Mac. Once again the guitar work is masterful and has the subtle interplay that Peter Green and Danny Kirwan had together back in the day. To top it all off the track builds into a mess of delay and kicks back in with some heavy riffage…the entire time being held down solidly by the propulsive drumming. Stunning to say the least.
The fact is HOLY SPIRIT should be sought out by all lovers of anything groove based and heavy. Are you into guitar based heavy rock of the early 70’s? Well then buy this fucking album you will not regret it! People need to hear this album and realize that there are bands playing today that have taken this idiom a step further. HOLY SPIRIT is a heady mix that takes the listener on a trip into the stratosphere. It is a fantastic album that the world should hear!
The Requisite Year-End Best Albums List…2010
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It seems like these young psych warriors came out of nowhere, and depending on how you view Iowa, th...It seems like these young psych warriors came out of nowhere, and depending on how you view Iowa, that may just be true. A stunning and accomplished debut from a band that sound like they’ve been playing together for a decade. Locked in psychedelic magic.
45 - 90 minutes
There are no upcoming dates at this time.