Andy Matchett & The Monorail
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Andy Matchett & The Monorail

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I totally was thrilled when I first heard The Monorail’s “A Whole New City” and People Chasing People’s “The Dayglow Light of Sleep” so when I got this split CD in the mail, I was ecstatic. Both bands combine for eight songs of magic emotional indie rock that has the same vibe as the Dismemberment Plan, Pedro the Lion, and Promise Ring with sort of that vintage DC post-hardcore sound intertwined in the production. Both vocalists are amazing and to hear their songs sitting next to one another makes me one happy music fan. Isn’t it great in this day of horrid mainstream singles that have perhaps one catchy hook, that an indie underground band (or in this case two of them) can write an album’s worth that pocket infectious melodies like it was sleight of hand? Incredible.
- J-Sin
- Smother


It's strange to talk about the passing of the torch when the original torch bearers are in fact still alive and kicking. The torch in question is American indie rock's eternal flame and the bearers of the 90s- guitar crunching, anthem spilling Superchunk- are still very much part of the embers that often wilts near extinction but never quite go out. And since the late 80s and early 90s, there has been a great flirtation between the major players of the industry and these pioneers of sound. We've seen on many occasions bands who trade in their more unadorned locations for "greener" pastures; yet most never really quite garner the same artistic success their independent efforts did.

Nonetheless, this past year we've seen just how great indie rock can be- I must have said the words 'Arcade' and 'Fire' in the same sentence with glowing adjectives a dozen times already- there is something about the genre that has never allowed it to become saturated by mainstream approval. Indie rock by nature is loud, uncompromising and raw; qualities most often deemed unmarketable by big bucks, a quality that has prevented it from becoming a hapless trend among the mallketeers of music. Sure, every so often a Nirvana comes along, but for the majority of bands, their lasting appeal lies within their often unnoticed calling.

Washington, DC trio The Monorail is to the new millennium what Superchunk and Dinosaur Jr were to the last. And excuse me for exalting such praise early on in a career but A Whole New City could be one of the best short slabs of rock music I've heard all year. Tuned to the kind of spirited anthemic nature of their predecessors, this EP is overflowing with the sort of angst-ridden riffs both Mac McCaughan and J Mascis would be proud of. And oh the melodies! The melodies kill. "Busy Mess Stress Test" alternates between the softly tuneful and the intense, while "Q + A" is a deceivingly serene song that bustles its way through some truly great organized chaos. The six songs are, for the most part, consistent too; seldom do they wander away from their bread and butter: their unrelenting rhythmic assault.

On one hand, they've got their Chunk influences down pat, but on the other; it isn't just a bunch of dudes making loud noises in their garage. In the aptly titled "The Club," The Monorail descends their disco ball for a more than competent stab at the dance scene. Driven by seductive dance floor grooves, the track makes play for more traditional sounding disco; wrapped of course, in the unrelenting fuzz of angular guitars and some earnestly thumping percussion work. It's a formula repeated in "Writing Has No Volume," but only to a lesser degree of success as the song seems to wane a little longer than it should. In Layman's terms, they're a strangely working synthesis of Superchunk and Blondie- dance influenced, but firmly rooted in indie rock.

So what does the future hold for The Monorail? For one, I lied earlier when I said they are going to be great this millennium. No, truth is, they were great last century too- the majority of A Whole New City was written before the turn, and with an upcoming new full-length in the works, time will only tell just where the Monorail will lead us. One thing for sure is that they'll keep that torch burning brightly, and as long as the music is as good as what we've got here, we'll be happy with destination: anywhere.

Reviewed by
Billy Maulana
December 15th, 2004
- Sound the Sirens


Discography

Three For Thee (EP) - 2007
Visit Pell Mell (Split LP) - 2005
A Whole New City (EP) - 2002
Meta-Analysis (LP) - 1999

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Bio

Andy Matchett is a Subdivision of a Great City.
John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Neil Young plotted the land for this City. Dave Grohl, Rivers Cuomo and Billy Corgan built it's structures. Tim Kinsella, David Bazan and Chan Marshall gave it's existence new purpose and direction. Today, taken over and split in two by rival dictators Pitchfork and Clear Channel, this once great metropolis has found it's streets overrun with strangers and riff-raff....... Meanwhile, Andyland, founded in 1980 and declared a legitimate bourough in 1996, lies watchful and weary just on the edge of town. The Monorail runs out into the City and back to Andyland, taking it's odd and peacful little citizens to work and bringing them back home safe to their families.