Angel and the Love Mongers
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Angel and the Love Mongers

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Knoxville's Angel Zuniga and Eric Nowinski, d/b/a Angel and the Love Mongers, are a duo that recalls the British synth-pop duos of the early 1980s, particularly Soft Cell of "Tainted Love" fame. In this regard, singer/songwriter/guitarist Zuniga plays the Marc Almond role, with Nowinski, who is billed as a drummer but also plays other instruments, arranges the songs, and co-produced the record with the legendary Mitch Easter, cast in the supporting David Ball role. Nowinski surrounds Zuniga with clever pop arrangements full of interesting instrumental combinations and choral parts, which only serves to place the spotlight even more precisely on the singer. And Zuniga proves to be a drama queen in a long tradition of self-regarding frontmen including not only Almond but also Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, among many others. It's no surprise that he's a former actor and model, since he seems to sing, in his smooth, rhythmic tenor, as if staring into a mirror, his lyrics full of a sort of theatrical introspection; his emotional turmoil, clearly, is at least partly (and probably primarily) for show. And, as with any star, somehow his vanity is compelling instead of being off-putting. It helps, of course, that the music is so catchy. By the end, when Zuniga wishes for a "Tornado Wind" to pick him up and take him away from his troubles, it's obvious what he has in mind. Like generations of star-struck androgynous young men before him, he wants to be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
- William Ruhlmann


Strange and surprising, the sophomore release from Angel and the Love Mongers, The Humanist Queen, despite its peculiar titling manages to capture a catchy mish-mash of Depche Mode-like vocals and a sound reminiscent of The Cure, Morrissey, and Pulp. Teaming up with producer Mitch Easter (Let's Active) and artists Tim Lee (Windbreakers and the Tim Lee Band) and Paul Noe (The Judybats), vocalist Angel Zuniga and drummer Eric Nowinski are certainly one of the more interesting sounds to emerge from Knoxville, Tennessee, as of late. Zuniga, a former actor and model who has taken his inspiration from many an 80s alternative dance band, and Nowinski, a trial lawyer-turned-musician have just the right background to make for either an incredibly talented performance or truly frustrating audio experience.

Thankfully for listeners, the former is true. In the vein of ’80s and Brit-pop revivalists, Angel and the Love Mongers, with their jaunty songs and downbeat lyrics carve a peculiarly satisfying experience at first with "Nikki Hart," a melodramatic love-fare that warms up to the rather jaunty "The Humanist Queen," which peps along catchy and rhythmic, despite its na-na-na-ing and shaky lyrics. "What do I know?" has a particular rolling disillusionment to it that might well-accompany movie soundtracks that require some interesting strolling music with a hint of Jarvis.

"Let it Be Done" smacks thickly of snyth-goth oddities Spahn Ranch, while playfully accepting the similarity in sound to "Funkytown". Thick with Depeche Mode repetitions, morphing upbeats and drops, and the slightest bit of sexuality stapled to a decent guitar breakdown or two, this song breaks away into the rocky "Sitting on a Bomb," a chipper-sounding downer with smooth metaphors and a rather soothing delivery of some rather unsunny ideas.

"Sideways" has a strong build up from its Cure-like guitar opening. Toss in a few fallen angel metaphors, some synth vibes, and a couple tambourine shakes and, well, it's still what it is, which is not particularly strong compared to previous tracks, but it does mark a change in pace for the album. Mellowing out a bit, "Speak Straight to Me or Die" a wry, slightly dancy, bit of Oingo Boingo joins "Frankenstein's Friend," a track that conjures images of saloons and organ grinders, muffled vocals, and echoey back-and-forthings, which make for great punk boy jerk-dance material. "Home," "It Turns," "The Framed," and "Tornado Wind," progress from smooth and swaying homages to Morrissey to a rather resigned, at times playful, twist of bluesy, low-toned choruses.

Normally, a band that makes as many claims and comparisons as this one has would indicate a surefire trip to the trashcan, but happily, some of these claims are defensible. Not only that, but the overall effect of the album is quite satisfying. Varied enough to be interesting, and catchy enough to distract from some lyrical roadblocks. Bravo. A- | James Nokes
- Playback: stl


Angel and the Love Mongers - The Humanist Queen (CD, Rock Snob, Pop)
Although folks involved with this band see themselves as sounding like Jeff Buckley, John Lennon, and The Cure...to our ears, the tunes on The Humanist Queen sound much more like an odd cross between Sparks and The Chainsaw Kittens. In any case, even though this album may be an acquired taste (we had to spin it two or three times before deciding we liked it)...if you give them some time, this band's songs will most likely make a lasting impression. This is the second full-length release from Knoxville, Tennessee's Angel and the Love Mongers. The band's songs are extremely intelligent and well-thought out...and produced to perfection thanks to the talents of underground icon Mitch Easter. This band's music seems to be influenced by bands from the 1980s...although picking out exactly which bands isn't so obvious. Twelve cool pop tracks here including "The Humanist Queen," "Let It Be Done," "Home," and "Tornado Wind." Great vocals on this one. Groovy stuff that grows on you. (Rating: 5+)
- www.babysue.com


Angel and the Love Mongers: In the tiny Troo Music Tent, this Knoxville band was so good that for the first three or four songs, I was sure they were playing covers. Lead singer is a former model and actor, and his on-stage strutting and preening and pouting seemed a parody of rockstar-dom. But, alas, he was dead serious. Still and all, his voice made up for the silliness, and the whole set led Roommate to comment “there weren’t bands like this when I lived in Knoxville” on several occasions. - My Louisville blog - http://loueyville.blogspot.com


Culling their sound from the ‘80s, ala Depeche Mode and the Cure, Angel and the Love Mongers may be one of many bands currently ransacking that long lost decade of music. But fortunately for them and their listeners, they do a pretty stand up job. Melodic vocals with that sort of British bite to it form the central theme to their sound as the coaxing guitars swap back and forth with catchy harmonies. Now that you know all that wouldn’t you be surprised that the group is from Knoxville, Tennessee?

- J-Sin
- www.smother.net


Angel And The Love Mongers are from Knoxville, Tennessee but their music has a distinctive Brit pop feel to it. The band is singer/guitarist Angel Zuniga and drummer Eric Nowinski and their latest, The Humanist Queen, will be officially released September 4th on Rock Snob Records (though it appears the album can be picked up on CD Baby right now). Add to the mix some studio help and production by famed artist/producer Mitch Easter and you have a very nice piece of lush music. - www.marsneedsguitars.com


Angel And The Love Mongers
Bringing together the seemingly disparate sounds of dark, synthy electro-pop of the 1980s and guitar-based classic rock makes it difficult to put a finger on the sound of Knoxville, Tennessee’s Angel and the Love Mongers. Formed in the spring of 2004 by singer/guitarist Angel Zuniga and drummer Eric Nowinski, Angel and Eric were drawn together due in part to their diverse approach to music.

Angel, who takes many of his musical cues from alternative dance bands of the 80’s, such as Depeche Mode and Erasure, is a former actor and model that confesses to have spent his formative years in front of a mirror practicing his dance moves instead of playing air guitar. Eric, on the other hand, who cut his musical teeth on The Beatles and spent his youth playing air guitar to Queen and Cheap Trick recently gave up his career as a trial lawyer to pursue music. At first glance, this would appear to be a musical mismatch of cosmic proportions. However, this diametrically opposed approach to music is one of the things that allow Angel and the Love Mongers to create such a unique, bracing sound.

Angel and the Love Mongers first album was a collection of 11 catchy alternative/pop songs produced by Don Coffey, Jr., of Superdrag fame. However, for their sophomore effort the band wanted to broaden their musical pallet and therefore sought out the help of legendary artist/producer Mitch Easter. The culmination of this effort is The Humanist Queen, which will be released on September 4, 2007 on Rock Snob Records.

Although The Humanist Queen can be appreciated solely for its lush arrangements, soaring harmony vocals and song craft, it would be a mistake to ignore the lyrics, which sometimes take a dark and abrasive look at the motivating elements of power and control in today’s culture. This oppositional approach to songwriting results in a unique yet somehow indulgent musical canvas that must be heard to be fully appreciated. Other notable musicians who lent their talent to the making of The Humanist Queen include Mitch Easter (Let’s Active) Tim Lee (The Windbreakers and the Tim Lee Band) and Paul Noe (The Judybats). Highly Recommended! - http://indiesurfer.blogspot.com/2007/07/angel-and-love-mongers.html


Angel And The Love Mongers - The Humanist Queen: Apparently, melding classic rock and 80s dance music can work. I would have never thought so, but these guys have opened my eyes and turned me into a believer with this unique pop gem that's equally one part of each era, which means that you now have a song that you can either air guitar or dance in the mirror to. What more could you possibly want? - Side One: Track One (www.sideonetrackone.com)


Have you ever wondered what would happen if Jeff Buckley had met John Lennon and they had formed a band with the members of The Cure? Although that doesn’t necessarily describe Angel and the Love Mongers’ sound it certainly shows how difficult it can be to characterize this band’s unique and oppositional approach to music. Hailing from Knoxville, TN, Angel and the Love Mongers was formed in the spring of 2004 by singer/guitarist Angel Zuniga and drummer/engineer Eric Nowinski. Angel and Eric were drawn together to form a band due in part to their diverse approach to music. Angel, who takes many of his musical cues from alternative dance bands of the 80’s such as Depeche Mode and Erasure, was a former actor and model who confesses to have spent his formative years in front of a mirror practicing his dance moves instead of playing air guitar. On the other hand, Eric, who cut his teeth on The Beatles and spent his youth playing air guitar to Queen and R.E.M. recently gave up his career as a trial lawyer to pursue music. At first glance, this would appear to be a mismatch of cosmic proportions. However, the diametrically opposed approach to their music is one of the things that separate Angel and the Love Mongers from the cookie cutter bands that are commonplace today.

Angel and the Love Mongers first album was a collection of 11 catchy alternative/pop songs produced by Don Coffey, Jr., of Superdrag fame. The album received critical acclaim and was a mainstay on college radio stations throughout the country. However, not wanting to repeat the successful formula of their first album, Angel and the Love Mongers sought out the help of legendary artist/producer Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Wilco, Let’s Active) to tackle their much more mature sophomore effort. The culmination of this effort is “The Humanist Queen” which will be released this summer. Although, “The Humanist Queen” can be celebrated for its lush arrangements, soaring harmony vocals and Beatlesque song craft, the albums lyrics take a dark and sometimes abrasive look at the motivating elements of power and control in today’s culture. Once again, this oppositional approach to songwriting results in a unique yet somehow indulgent musical canvas where the listener can actually choose what direction they want the music to take them.

As a band, Angel and the Love Mongers are known for their energetic live shows and impeccable musicianship. This year’s performance at Bonnaroo will be no different. Joining Angel and Eric at Bonnaroo this year to fill out the Love Mongers will be guitarist John Baker, keyboard/guitarist Jim Rivers and bassist Chuck Watt.
- www.bonnaroo.com (www.bonnaroo.com/angel-and-the-love-mongers


Discography

02-14-2005 - Angel and the Love Mongers (self-titled) - Produced by Don Coffey Jr. of Superdrag - Available on Disgraceland Records.
09-04-2007 - Angel and the Love Mongers "The Humanist Queen" - Co-produced and mixed by legendary producer/musician Mitch Easter. Available on Rock Snob Records.

Additional songs and information available at:

www.angelandthelovemongers.com
www.myspaceangelandthelovemongersknoxville
www.rocksnobrecords.com

Photos

Bio

Have you ever wondered what it might sound like if Jeff Buckley had met John Lennon and they had formed a band with the members of The Cure? Although that sort of “what if” question may seem a bit strange at first glance, it tends to show the difficulty that can arise when trying to put a finger on the sound of Knoxville, Tennessee’s Angel and the Love Mongers. Formed in the spring of 2004 by singer/guitarist Angel Zuniga and drummer Eric Nowinski, Angel and Eric were drawn together due in part to their diverse approach to music. Angel, who takes many of his musical cues from alternative dance bands of the 80’s, such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, is a former actor and model who confesses to have spent his formative years in front of a mirror practicing his dance moves instead of playing air guitar. On the other hand, Eric, who cut his musical teeth on The Beatles and spent his youth playing air guitar to Queen and Cheap Trick recently gave up his career as a trial lawyer to pursue music. At first glance, this would appear to be a musical mismatch of cosmic proportions. However, this diametrically opposed approach to music is one of the things that separates Angel and the Love Mongers from the cookie cutter bands that are commonplace today.

Angel and the Love Mongers first album was a collection of 11 catchy alternative/pop songs produced by Don Coffey, Jr., of Superdrag fame. However, for their sophomore effort the band wanted to broaden their musical pallet and therefore sought out the help of legendary artist/producer Mitch Easter. The culmination of this effort is “The Humanist Queen” which will be released on September 4, 2007 on Rock Snob Records. Although “The Humanist Queen” can be appreciated solely for its lush arrangements, soaring harmony vocals and Beatlesque song craft, it would be a mistake to ignore the lyrics, which sometimes take a dark and abrasive look at the motivating elements of power and control in today’s culture. It is this oppositional approach to songwriting that results in a unique yet somehow indulgent musical canvas that must be heard to be fully appreciated. Other notable musicians who lent their talent to the making of “The Humanist Queen” include Mitch Easter (Let’s Active) Tim Lee (The Windbreakers and the Tim Lee Band) and Paul Noe (The Judybats).