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Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


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"...the beauty of Low Pining lies not in its solutions or answers, but instead in its embracing of the ruin as an opportunity to reflect, and begin again. Just as U2 attempts to escape history and cultural definition in “Where The Streets Have No Name,” so too do Monahans dramatically demolish everything with a poetic pull to leave at least a hope of rebuilding something different, something more beautiful."

"It's Enough to Leave You...", which opens Dim the Aurora, their second album as Monahans and first for Misra, puts Roberto Sánchez's drums right at the forefront, with a desperately steady beat that pushes the songs forward at a midtempo that wants to-- but never does-- break free into a full gallop. Sánchez is more than simply a timekeeper here, but an instrumentalist on equal footing with the guitars: That tambourine puts the jangle in "It's Enough to Leave You...", his toms ratchet the tension on the clockwork instrumental "Night #3" and bleed into the mandolin strums on "Over Fields". On "Fit for Fire", his drums and Britton Beisenherz's Bad Seeds-style bassline provide the latticework on which Greg Vanderpool and Jim Fredley hang their darting guitar licks. It's not so much that Monahans' new sound allows for greater rhythmic presence, but that Sánchez's elevated position in the group allows them to create that new sound, to pivot in new directions. Bouncing on that drumbeat, "It's Enough to Leave You..." immediately showcases their ability to write dusty, concise hooks and to resolve melodies in interesting, unexpected ways. Monahans turn "Slow Burn" and "The Low Light" into surprisingly tender slow-dance numbers that echo any of Will Johnson's projects (unsurprisingly, he sings harmonies on the latter), and the messier, more abrasive "Fit for Fire" sets Vanderpool and Fredley's tight harmonies against a maelstrom of horns and feedback. On Dim the Aurora, atmosphere takes as much priority as songwriting, as the band makes the music do as much as the lyrics." - Pitchfork

"There's more than a hint of Wilco coursing through the sonic DNA of Austin's Monahans, from the warmingly inviting, Tweedy-esque vocals to a keen ability to juggle pop inclinations with more experimental ones - proof of the latter, especially, discerned in three probing instrumentals (one of them a 21-minute journey across kosmiche terrain) that punctuate the tracklist of this, their second full-length. Too, the fact that until 2007 the group had spent the decade operating as alt-country twangers Milton Mapes makes their transformation into something more urgently anthemic, at times overtly psychedelic, rather Wilco-esque. Beyond all that, though, the aforementioned space-rock epic ("Terrene"), along with such numbers as the pulsing, brooding "I Run To You," the polygot worldbeat/freejazz of "Fit For Fire" and the buoyant title track, additionally puts the group in rubbing-shoulders distance of My Morning Jacket and Arcade Fire. Not bad company to be keeping, and a remarkable musical evolution to boot." - Blurt

"The Austin-San Francisco band Monahans grew out of Austin’s Milton Mapes and walks along a similar sonic landscape. Patient, cinematic song structure is given a deeply human, emotional quality by the vocals of Greg Vanderpool. Low Pining, the band’s debut, describes the longing found within, highlighted on tracks like the guitar-heavy “Traveling Song” and the sparse, lonesome “When You’re Down” (featuring Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins). Although the majority of the tempos are brought way down, “Undiscovered” thumps like classic R.E.M. (if Stipe was from Dallas), or even a more mature Band of Horses. While the inclusion of lyrics was a wise decision—the band was considering making this all instrumentals—it’s the brooding, dissonant guitars and ominous rhythms bringing visions of storm clouds and waves across the ocean that make this an under the radar gem. If given the chance, it will win you over."
- Harp Magazine

"'It’s Enough To Leave You” is the opening track on Dim The Aurora, and it packs about a quarter-century of alt-rock reference points into its four-minute running time. From the awkwardly soaring chorus and the chunky, quirky, handclaps-and-piano rhythm line to the dynamic buildup that goes nowhere but is expansive and elegant getting there, “It’s Enough To Leave You” manages to subtly point fingers at everyone from Michael Stipe to Spoon to The Hold Steady, all while managing to sound quite unique...Monahans have made an album that’s richly rooted in American rock traditionalism but also lurching noisily forward into something far more intriguing." - Magnet Magazine

"Mixing everything you (should) like about Springsteen, Stone Roses, and Jesus & Mary Chain, Monahans are able to remind us that qualitative adjectives like ‘ambient’ and ‘tranquil’ are not antithetical to rock & roll. To learn that their 2007 release, Low Pining, was almost an entirely instrumental endeavor is not surprising, as most songs have a very bottom-up structural feel to them, and while I’m glad that lyrics were ultimately included, the process clearly served them well."

"The finest bands create not only great songs but also mood, and no one gets that like Austin’s Monahans. The four-piece group named itself after the tranquil West Texas oasis, but the band’s tone is dark and unnerving, like a storm rolling in— all pounding drums and big guitar riffs, alternately thunderous and eerily ambient. Monahans morphed from Milton Mapes, an Austin band led by Greg Vanderpool and Roberto Sánchez, and yet despite the name change, it is essentially the same outfit, a bit less alt country and a bit more bombastic. Vanderpool has an uncanny knack for juxtaposing beautiful melodies over sonic fireballs, and his bandmates have clearly listened to their Crazy Horse and U2 albums. At first listen, Dim the Aurora (Misra) sounds unfinished; most songs are short and stop abruptly, and of the album’s hour, 29 minutes are taken up by instrumentals. But this lends a fascination and mystery to the band’s second album that you wouldn’t find on a more conventional recording. When the best songs end before you want them to, you’re left hungry for more." - Texas Monthly


Low Pining (2007 Undertow)
Dim The Aurora (2009 Misra)
"2010 Recordings" monthly series (2010 The Elusive Goldmine)



Austin-based band Monahans (not “The Monahans), named for a range of desolate West Texas sand hills, balances thundering rhythms and atmospheric "landscape rock" with urgent pop anthems and spiritual campfire balladry (think Explosions In the Sky + R.E.M + Neil Young).

The collaboration of Greg Vanderpool and bandmate Roberto Sánchez began in 1999 as the driving force behind Milton Mapes (named for Vanderpool’s grandfather). Nebraska-era Springsteen roots eventually gave way to Crazy-Horse grandeur with the addition of Britton Beisenherz and Jim Fredley. In 2006, after releasing three full-length albums (including one song ultimately covered by Robert Plant) and performing countless shows with the likes of Willie Nelson, Cowboy Junkies and Magnolia Electric Co., Milton Mapes regrouped and changed their songwriting process to a more collaborative effort, allowing the different talents of all of its members to emerge. Wordless soundtracks loaded with Sanchez’ heavy rhythmic intensity and Fredley’s signature guitar stylings soon took on the feel of early U2, R.E.M., and Califone, peeling back the alt-country tag to reveal a more diverse set of influences. They realized that what they were doing warranted a new beginning, and Monahans was born.

Monahans’ first album, 'Low Pining' (Undertow, 2007) straddles the line between rural West Texas detachment and thundering high-seas unrest, drenched in Cold-War Era urgency and highlighted by the sweeping, glossy pop anthem “Undiscovered”.

2009 saw Monahans signed to Misra Records, who released the band's second album, 'Dim The Aurora'. Opening with the potently hopeful “It's Enough To Leave You...”, along with the pulsating title track and the heavy handed “Slow Burn”, the record showcases the group engaged in the moment, embracing the cause.

In 2010, having been named by local press as one of Austin's "bands on the rise", Monahans began recording and releasing a new song (along with production notes and outtakes) each month to their fans, as a means of including listeners in the process over the course of the year. The project culminated with "Seabirds" featuring Sinead O'Connor as a guest vocalist. The year also saw the band filmed on the legendary Austin City Limits stage for the ACL Satellite Sets series.

The current lineup includes Ramble Creek studio engineer/producer Britton Beisenherz, Roberto Sanchez and Greg Vanderpool (both former Milton Mapes members), and longtime Spoon bassist Joshua Zarbo.