Monuments and Statues
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Monuments and Statues

Kingston, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Kingston, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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Rachel and Amanda had the opportunity to join Bravestation and Dora Alexander for their mini-tour through Kingston and Ottawa. Here are Rachel’s photos from their show at Clark Hall Pub in Kingston. - Buying Shots for Bands


EMC Entertainment - Fans of the local independent music scene have a treat in store this weekend, as YGK Productions presents a special triple-feature live show at the Mansion this Saturday night.

A true local success story, YGK Productions is based out of Kingston, run by Terry Young and Nat Bourgon.

"I met Terry towards the end of 2009 at one of the shows he was putting on," recalls Bourgon. "We started chatting about music and discovered we had some common ground musically, and I really wanted to get involved."

The two have been collaborating in the name of great local music ever since, signing bands that they truly believe in and giving them all the tender loving care they need to produce the best possible albums and live shows. To date YGK has put on close to 100 live shows, and carved out a nice little niche in the local scene.

Three bands will be featured at Saturday's show, including the critically acclaimed Toronto-based folk band The Phonemes, the eclectic group Random Recipe from Montreal and the Kingston alternative band Monuments and Statues.

Monuments and Statues have been a fixture on the local music scene for the last year and a half. Made up of singer and tambourine player Cass Scaluzero, cellist Mackenzie Bromstad, drummer Jason Rajsic, banjoist Geoff Reith and keyboardist Cirisse Stephen the band offers up a unique sound which blends folk, baroque and pop styles of music. Most of the members met while studying geology at Queen's University.

The band is excited to have the opportunity to play such a high profile show at one of their favourite venues.

"Playing live is always really fun," says Bromstad. "We've played the Mansion a lot in the last year and a half, probably the most of anywhere in Kingston. It'll be great to play there on a Saturday night."

In addition to regularly entertaining Kingston audiences with live shows, Monuments and Statues have two EPs called Painted and Weathered and Welcome to the Undertow. They were also featured on the recent Humane Society benefit album Shelter Me, and are currently working on their first live album.

"We have a couple covers that we play but pretty much everything else is original," notes Bromstad.

The skeletons for most of the band's songs are the brainchildren of Reith.

"I'll sit in my room with my banjo playing the same part over and over again until I find something that I think is good enough to present to other people," he explains. "Then we all figure out the rest of the song - the cello, drum and keyboard parts, and then usually while that's happening we'll come up with the lyrics."

"Our style is kind of a mishmash of things," adds Rajsic. "There's not really one particular band or person that was an influence on us. We just try to make good, interesting pop-style songs."

The band has recently begun touring outside of Kingston, playing several shows in Toronto and preparing for another in Ottawa on March 26 at the Avant Garde Bar, where they will play alongside the band Alligator Baby.

The YGK Productions show gets underway at 9 p.m. on Saturday night at the Mansion, located at 506 Princess St.

To download Monuments and Statues' two EPs for free, please visit www.momumentsandstatues.bandcamp.com and www.last.fm/music/Monuments+and+Statues. You can also find the band on Facebook and Myspace.

For more information about YGK Productions, please visit www.ygk.weebly.com.
- Kingston EMC


EMC Entertainment - Fans of the local independent music scene have a treat in store this weekend, as YGK Productions presents a special triple-feature live show at the Mansion this Saturday night.

A true local success story, YGK Productions is based out of Kingston, run by Terry Young and Nat Bourgon.

"I met Terry towards the end of 2009 at one of the shows he was putting on," recalls Bourgon. "We started chatting about music and discovered we had some common ground musically, and I really wanted to get involved."

The two have been collaborating in the name of great local music ever since, signing bands that they truly believe in and giving them all the tender loving care they need to produce the best possible albums and live shows. To date YGK has put on close to 100 live shows, and carved out a nice little niche in the local scene.

Three bands will be featured at Saturday's show, including the critically acclaimed Toronto-based folk band The Phonemes, the eclectic group Random Recipe from Montreal and the Kingston alternative band Monuments and Statues.

Monuments and Statues have been a fixture on the local music scene for the last year and a half. Made up of singer and tambourine player Cass Scaluzero, cellist Mackenzie Bromstad, drummer Jason Rajsic, banjoist Geoff Reith and keyboardist Cirisse Stephen the band offers up a unique sound which blends folk, baroque and pop styles of music. Most of the members met while studying geology at Queen's University.

The band is excited to have the opportunity to play such a high profile show at one of their favourite venues.

"Playing live is always really fun," says Bromstad. "We've played the Mansion a lot in the last year and a half, probably the most of anywhere in Kingston. It'll be great to play there on a Saturday night."

In addition to regularly entertaining Kingston audiences with live shows, Monuments and Statues have two EPs called Painted and Weathered and Welcome to the Undertow. They were also featured on the recent Humane Society benefit album Shelter Me, and are currently working on their first live album.

"We have a couple covers that we play but pretty much everything else is original," notes Bromstad.

The skeletons for most of the band's songs are the brainchildren of Reith.

"I'll sit in my room with my banjo playing the same part over and over again until I find something that I think is good enough to present to other people," he explains. "Then we all figure out the rest of the song - the cello, drum and keyboard parts, and then usually while that's happening we'll come up with the lyrics."

"Our style is kind of a mishmash of things," adds Rajsic. "There's not really one particular band or person that was an influence on us. We just try to make good, interesting pop-style songs."

The band has recently begun touring outside of Kingston, playing several shows in Toronto and preparing for another in Ottawa on March 26 at the Avant Garde Bar, where they will play alongside the band Alligator Baby.

The YGK Productions show gets underway at 9 p.m. on Saturday night at the Mansion, located at 506 Princess St.

To download Monuments and Statues' two EPs for free, please visit www.momumentsandstatues.bandcamp.com and www.last.fm/music/Monuments+and+Statues. You can also find the band on Facebook and Myspace.

For more information about YGK Productions, please visit www.ygk.weebly.com.
- Kingston EMC


Three quarters of Kingston’s Monuments and Statues’ sophomore offering Welcome to the Undertow dials back on the genre transcendence and all over the map experimentation of the band’s 2009 debut EP, in favour of a more straightforward, direct folk sound. That missing one quarter is the undeniable centerpiece entitled “Red Dress,” and it is simply the band’s most challenging, most experimental, and finest track to date. Welcome to the Undertow hones in on the strongest components of the band’s debut Painted and Weathered, which fused country, gospel, pop, folk, and rock musical influences in a cohesive, confident manner. The more folky Undertow builds on the charms of its rockier predecessor, while banking heavily on the haunting, emotional and affecting lead vocals of Laura Baker, and Geoff Reith’s inviting and enthralling banjo. Thankfully, the formula pays off, as Reith and Barker’s musical chemistry soars to new heights. Reith also adds a touch of playfulness with a side of maturity to the band’s music with his maudlin, yet strangely joyous background harmony vocals. With new vocalist Cass Sclauzero (who joined the band after the recording of Welcome to the Undertow) now in tow as an official band member, exciting things are in store for the future of Monuments and Statues!



If Barker and Reith are the band’s most instantly distinct and identifiable personalities, then percussionist Jason Rajsic, cellist Mackenzie Bromstad, and keyboardist Cirisse Stephen are the band’s secret weapons, who all bring their own unique flavour to the band’s sonic and lyrical forward movement. Painted and Weathered delivered a solid introduction to Reith and Barker’s contributions to the band, but on Welcome to the Undertow, despite the greater commitment to the folk genre, Geoff Reith’s fuller songs seem deliberately written to showcase and incorporate the great depth and talents of the group’s entire cast. In addition to Geoff Reith and Laura Barker’s musical rapport from the band’s debut, Undertow features the rich interplay between Cirisse Stephen’s energetic keyboard, and Mackenzie Bromstad’s transporting and otherworldly cello. Jason Rajsic’s spirited percussion ups the ante, adding a flair of power and conviction to these oft-dreamy, laid back ditties. Undertow finds the band shaving off the excess filler (Undertow includes only 4 songs, compared to the band’s 6 track debut recording) and introducing an assortment of new ideas and variations that enhance the album’s musical landscape, and support its overall raw, earthy vibe. Laura Barker’s sweet and at times spunky vocals are the icing on the cake, and the band smartly allows her to deliver lead vocals on all four tracks here.



Opening tune “Conrad” draws one in instantaneously with Reith’s lively, spirited banjo solo. When Laura Barker chimes in a moment later, her sweet, melodic vocals are brought to the forefront, as she conjures up a fear of implosion of all things natural in our world as she cautiously croons the lyrics “camp out down south/sleep under a bridge/bottles of water floating down the river/back to our home.” But, for every ounce of fear, there is a sliver of optimism, hope and romanticism, much like in real life. The music dips into despair, but the words ”well I know you’ve seen what I believe is true/and the house I built was made for loving you” are so positive, leaving it up to Barker to be the deciding factor. Thankfully, her vocal presence casts a spell of light that overpowers the darkness of the music, giving hope, while not falling prey to the dangers of exaggeration or falsification of the ways the world. When Reith picks up the mic, his oft-lighthearted and playful vocals act as the ying to Barker’s yang. Reith’s solo vocal part shows that he can put aside the cheer, and provide a doom and gloom delivery similar to Barker’s. To cap off the tune and send it off to its much deserved status of significance on the forthcoming M&S greatest hits LP (when it inevitably arrives), cellist Mackenzie Bromstad plays the part of country diva to flawless effect, as she wails “house I built was made for loving you” in a manner so gripping, so intense, that it only leaves the Monuments and Statues faithful fan base wondering why she doesn’t get to sing more often!



The album’s jewel is centerpiece “Red Dress.” Clocking in at almost 6 minutes long, the track is a showcase for Cirisse Stephen’s meticulous keyboard work. Stephen also gets to lead off the track with a rare vocal appearance of her own, chiming in with some “oohs and aahs” alongside Bromstad. Cirisse Stephen’s optimistic keyboard has never meshed so effectively with Reith’s banjo, and when Stephen finally gets her chance to shine in a mid song instrumental solo, she steals the show. With many unpredictable twists and turns throughout, this song embodies the band’s overall album philosophy of not knowing where exactly where they’re flying to, but embracing the unknown territory and taking flight without fear of turbulence! The track sounds closer to the band’s live show than any studio recording in their catalogue yet, and captures the strength of the band’s DIY, loose mentality. Words cannot do justice to this song and the adventurous forward motion that it reflects. Only ears and a quality set of headphones can!

Standout “Eric James” sees Barker’s vocals grow a little more confident and assured. Like “Ghost” on Painted and Weathered, the song commences with the emphasis wholeheartedly on her earthy, natural croon, alongside a sparse, supporting cello background offering by Bromstad. Rajsic’s percussion soon rises to the forefront, adding a sense of life to the doom and gloom parade. Barker adds some spunk to her sweet croon, which leads to an unprecedented evocative and emotional energy in the song. “I sailed my boat around the world/oceans crossed and waves unfurled/and every storm I came to find/it tossed me home,” she muses, with a degree of anguish that sends chills down the body. The tune also has a tremendous lyrical impact: “I drove my daughter off a cliff/it’s funny how she won’t be missed/and everything I told to her/I told myself/it takes me home…woah, woah, woah!” shows Barker wrestling with guilt and the need to carry on and not look back, in a way that manages to be heartfelt, sincere, and personal all at once. “Eric James” is a great introduction and starting point for new fans to discover what Monuments and Statues’ music is all about. For longtime fans, it is just yet another confirmation that this band will be an indie music force to be reckoned with for years to come.



Given that several members of Monuments and Statues studied Geology at Queen’s University, it is no surprise that there is a certain underlying focus that runs throughout the album between human evolution and the man-made versus the natural world. Closing song “Life in c-minor” sums up all of the band’s fretting when its chorus offers some lyrical advice: “Life is a voice telling you to go back home/but I know life is what you’re running from/And I am a light leading your walk back home, but I know you’ll walk where you want to go.” The hope for a certain harmony and peaceful coexistence between all things natural and all things humanistic permeates this album, and the expression and exploration of this contrast (both musically and lyrically) has ultimately never before been so touching, so beautiful, or so real. - Nat Bourgon


In their debut EP “Painted and Weathered”, Kingston’s Monuments and Statues have crafted an original indie folk-influenced masterpiece, which is captivating, innovative, and contains a healthy dose of charm. In a current music industry where uniqueness and diversity often are (sadly) sacrificed for mainstream appeal, “Painted and Weathered” comes across as a breath of fresh air in terms of its musicality and lyrical expression. The band’s uniqueness comes to the forefront, as the role of the guitar is de-emphasized, in favour of the sparse sounds of the banjo and cello. Ultimately, the heart of Monuments and Statues’ is the reflective, heart-warming lead vocals of Laura Barker.

Standout track “Ghost” challenges the borders of standard indie folk tunes, as it shatters the expectations of the listener. Opening up at a crawl pace, and initially characterized by a heavy sense of musical minimalism, the haunting, sublime sounds of Geoff Reith’s banjo, combined with lead vocalist Laura Barker’s sweet, emotionally-charged, yet down-to-earth vocals allows “Ghost” to retains a certain sense of urgency throughout.

As the song nears the one minute mark, Barker utters the lyrics “Some days I could lie in the sand/and watch you read your book”. These lyrics might stir up the concern in casual listeners that “Ghosts” just floats along like a lazy paddle boat on a quiet lake, without any waves to make the ride a little more turbulent, and up the ante of intensity. Monuments and Statues render this concern inapplicable and misguided, and prove that this ‘would-be-red flag’ couldn’t be further from the case: The song features an accomplished level of musical progression, which is most evident when the band follows up that aforementioned calm-inspiring lyrical section, with a high-energy banjo, and cello-driven interlude that hints towards further build up and the rocking, dramatic conclusion that is waiting in the wings. Later on, when the tempo picks up further, “Ghosts” finds Jason Rajsic’s drumming in full throttle. Rajsic’s rhythm section is promoted from a background supporting role to a spotlight position, to great effect. Tossing into the equation Geoff Reith’s deeper, provocative vocals, which combine with Barker’s established bright, clear, and cheerful vocal delivery in a very fulfilling, satisfying manner, the end result is truly breathtaking.

Followup track “Murdur” is a gorgeous, airy folky duet between Reith and Barker, which scales back the level of instrumentation (although the banjo adds a nice textural dimension to the track) and instead emphasizes the blistery-like vocals I get shivers when Reith and Barker harmonize here, especially when they start singing about the prospect of “moving eastward towards the sun”. Here, it is once again demonstrated that it is Monuments and Statues’ capacity for stirring up the emotional involvement in the listener, that proves the band will be a serious contender for iPod space for years to come!. It is a great challenge to capture a blend of anxiety, devastation and hope all in one single move, but “Murdur” delivers unassumingly upon this lofty goal.

Perhaps the band’s finest hour yet, fourth track “Galafax” shimmers onto the scene with a short drum solo. A few seconds in, when the cello emerges, the listener knows he or she is in for a musical treat. Also, Barker is on top of her game vocally here, as she easily challenges other female vocalists’ crown for most affecting performance in a 2009 track. Barker’s vocals, which will draw comparisons to the loose, melodic, uplifting vocals offered by Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis and Immaculate Machine’s Kathryn Calder, come across as optimistic, while transforming a musically depressing song into a magnificent, rather catchy tune that is heavily empowered by its heavy emotional depth.

For a band just beginning to embark on their musical adventures, “Painted and Weathered” feels noticeably mature, refined. One of the work’s greatest assets is its ability to avoid falling prey to the hindering traps of heavy orchestration and over-production. It is clear that the band is not only comfortable with its own vision, but is also firmly behind the steering wheel with regards to its direction for the future. Monuments and Statues have willingness to be adventurous, and they take risks and venture outside their comfort zone by utilizing a variety of dynamics, tempos, and even transcending genre at times. Listen to the fourth and final quarter of “Ghosts”, and you’ll hear the influence of Vancover indie-rock collective “Mother Mother” in terms of the their huge, layered sonic wall of sound, while also incorporating elements of a frantic and chaotic nature that are often associated with Brooklyn’s brother-sister indie pop duo “The Fiery Furnaces”. Monuments and Statues’ music pulls at the heartstrings in a way that peers could only envision. It is clear that a wave of pensiveness, caution and the notion of uncertainty seams through the record. What makes Monuments and Statues truly special, is that they manage to be heartfelt, genuine, and hopeful in expressing their deepest life hesitations, concerns and anxieties. A recent conversation with Monuments and Statues’ keyboardist Cirisse Stephen, where she indicated to me that she considers herself “more of a musician, than a music fan” further cements the group’s desire to make records that are unique, challenging, and left of centre, as opposed to merely relying on their influences for inspiration. The band seems very committed to making deeply moving, and fulfilling albums for the band itself, rather than merely trying to please a specific target audience and mainstream popularity.

Monuments and Statues simultaneously ensure that their strengths, such as its rich boy-girl vocal harmonies, and its constant dedication to the banjo and cello as lead instruments, are well-employed. Their ability to keep this balance in check places the group in rare company. There is precision evident when there needs to be, but also a great sense of easygoingness, and spontaneity. This merging of this elegance and professionalism with a certain causal, home-cooked feel makes for a strong, diverse debut, which excels at pushing the musical envelope of the genre forward, all the while preserving and honing their creativity and solid songwriting. “Painted and Weathered is the sounds of a confident band, whose musical maturity and group chemistry separates it from other indie-folk debuts. However, to classify “Painted and Weathered” as an indie-folk album would inaccurate: this is not an indie-folk album….Monuments and Statues’ debut transcends genre, and manages to capture the group’s pop sensibilities, without resorting to blandness often associated (fairly and unfairly) with mainstream music. The record is ultimately a winner…full of enticing amounts of intellectualness and decorated with a strong musical personality, while effectively bypassing and improving upon the constructed pre-conceived ideas and expectations of indie folk music.

To hear some songs by Monuments and Statues from their "Painted and Weathered" EP---check out Monuments and Statues' myspace:
http://www.myspace.com/monumentsandstatues - Nat Bourgon


Having only discovered the angst-filled goodness of the CW’s Life Unexpected the night before, it is understandable why I was hesitant to leave my Megavideo marathon to head to The Mansion to see Monuments and Statues, Bravestation and Dora Alexander perform. However, I have never been so grateful to have dragged my butt out of bed because it introduced me to three amazing bands.

Though it may seem like a random grouping of bands, with Monuments and Statues strumming to the folk beat and Bravestation and Dora Alexander exploring indie rock, it actually melded well together. Monuments and Statues was the perfect opener, allowing you to sip your drink and lull yourself into this night of indie treats.

Everyone kept commenting that the band is adorable and that may be the best way to describe them. Cellist Mackenzie Bromstad in her floral skirt and knee high socks, (with a matching striped ribbon around her cello and banjoist Geoff Reith, rocking a vintage puma jacket while he strummed, may have been the cutest thing I have ever seen while in a dark and moody bar.

The music was exactly like you’d expect from an indie folk band, with lots of cutesy songs, like one called “Jeggings.” Though some band members exclaimed this was not the name of the song, others correctly pointed out that jeggings are the comfiest pants out there (sorry Lululemon).

Cass Sclauzero’s vocals were amazing, as her folk twang rang clear through The Living Room. Her passion was clear on her face as she closed her eyes and moved to the music, feeling the melody and feeding that energy to the crowd. Reith felt the music so much it was like the energy was literally lifting him off the ground as he tip-toed around the stage.

Next up was Bravestation, and I, along with everyone else in the crowd, fell in love with this Toronto band’s unique sound. Shockingly, the band is unsigned, which is a crime against humanity. They should be blasting from everyone’s headphones as they are easily the next Kings of Leon.

The vocal duo of Devin and Derek Wilson is addictive with their smooth tones and huge vocal range. What makes this band stand out is Andrew Heppner on keys and engineering, supplying a mix of sounds and instruments to the music that adds an element of surprise to each song.

As if this band was not alluring enough, they are genuinely nice guys, thanking the crowd repeatedly for coming and encouraging them to stick around for Dora Alexander, who they had just been on a mini-tour with.

In fact, both bands seemed like the best of friends as they each sang and bobbed along to each other’s set.

After such an amazing performance by Bravestation I had high expectations from Dora Alexander and they didn’t disappoint.

Dora Alexander had a much more sombre sound than the other bands, thanks in part to Alex Grant’s crooning vocals and the fact that he looks like a brooding Ryan Gosling.

But, I think the power of the band’s music comes from their melodies, brought together by guitarist Christophe Brochard, bassist Michael Succi, drummer and keyboardist Adrian Gagnon and of course Grant. Their songs are uniquely soothing in moments and harshly jarring in others.

Bravestation and Dora Alexander are a perfect combo. Their music is infused with shocking combinations of sounds, melodies, and vocals. Something is truly wrong with the world when every reality and Disney star has an album being released, but these incredibly talented bands are not signed to a record company.

As I walked home that night I had no urge to continue my CW marathon, but instead to go home and blast all three bands.

- Queen's Journal


After chatting with Kingston-based folk band Monuments and Statues for a whole three minutes and 27 seconds, they invited me to become a member of their band. Perhaps it was wrong of me to casually mention that I dabble with the ukulele, but after spending a few minutes with the group, they’re the type I know I—and most other people—wouldn’t mind playing with.

Monuments and Statues are comprised of six local musicians. Laura Barker on vocals, Mackenzie Bromstad on cello, Jason Rajsic on drums, Geoff Reith on banjo and vocals, Nick Riordan on cello and Cirisse Stephen on keyboards.

However, how or when they began playing together is a bit of a mystery.

“I had been playing music with my housemate, who plays violin, and I ran into [Nick Riordan] on a field trip the night before and I was like ‘Hey I’m Geoff’ and he was like ‘I’m Nick’ and we began playing music,” Reith said. “As we meet people we steal them into my house and they play music and then they normally become friends afterwards—that’s the next part.” Their musical style is equally mysterious. When asked if they could describe their music, all in perfect unison they answered with a simple no.

“It’s like folk-baroque-pop…” Reith said trailing off. “I took a music class and baroque basically means weird.”

“It’s not like baroque in the classical period,” Bromstad chimed in.

“It explains it on Wikipedia, but baroque means something about having stringed instruments,” Riordan said.

“Orchestral instruments in pop music,” Reith said.

“That’s a really loose definition,” Bromstad said with a laugh.

“But folk with a spin is how we would describe it,” Reith said.

Having all six musicians together is a rarity. As busy students, mainly studying in the geological department at Queen’s, (Rajsic is the only one not in the department), the band have found it hard to find time to practice together.

“It seems like we have a show every two weeks or so and we’re like ‘We have a show next week,’ we better get together,’ Reith said. “It tends to happen in sections.” But they all agreed that Reith is always at every practice.

“Geoff’s the dictator of the band,” Rajsic said with a laugh.

“I come up with chords and singing melodies,” Reith explained. “It’s not a real dictatorship; I bring an idea and any ideas that everyone comes up with I usually like a lot. It’s nice to have that trust that you’ll have a skeleton of something and eventually it will be a pretty cool thing.”

It’s hard to deny that the band’s experience of living and working in Kingston has informed their music.

“I’ve lived here for two months and I’ve already played three shows. I would say that part of the reason Kingston is the way it is because it’s a college town—it’s quirky and indie,” Bromstad said. “It seems to foster that kind of thing. You have some creative students with too much time on their hands.” “The Kingston music scene has been really good to us. I mean Apple Crisp has always been good to us, and The Mansion has been awesome. I think we’ve played here [The Grad Club] a few times for open mic.”

“It doesn’t seem like it’s saturated with bands. There are enough places that are always looking for people. Whereas with my other band, back in Halifax, we really have to fight just to play a show.” The small-town feel of Kingston has also informed their sound.

“If you take the University, downtown, the student ghetto and north of Princess—that’s the Kingston I’m trapped in. That’s a small town to me. So it makes sense to see people on their porches playing banjo and making applesauce. It’s not far from the country.” The group only seems to look as far forward as next week’s show, group painting sessions where they play music and paint the stories that go along with their songs and a possible trip in Alaska.

“I think based on how we recruit people the band’s always going to be evolving,” Stephen said.

“Fast-forward eight months from now, the band’s going to look very different,” Bromstad said.

“We want to cover a Gertrudes song,” vocalist Barker added timidly.

Something tells me fellow Kingstonians The Gertrudes would have no problems with that.

Monuments and Statues play The Mansion Nov. 30 with The Lovely Feathers and Hey Ocean! for their CD release show. Tickets are $10 at the door. - Queen's Journal


Discography

Painted and Weathered EP 2009
Welcome to the Undertow EP 2010

Photos

Bio

For fans of: Unconventional rhythm, unique chord progressions and thoughtful harmonies.

“Cass Sclauzero’s vocals were amazing, as her folk twang rang clear through The Living Room. Her passion was clear on her face as she closed her eyes and moved to the music, feeling the melody and feeding that energy to the crowd.”
Alyssa Ashton- Queen's Journal

Founded by banjo-ist Geoff Reith, the core members of Monuments and Statues met in and around the Geology department at Queen's University in 2008. The current lineup includes Reith, alongside Mackenzie Bromstad on cello, Cass Sclauzero on vocals, Cirisse Stephen on keys and Jason Rajsic on drums. Monuments and Statues often sound quirky, playful, heartfelt and surprisingly mature all in the same song, thanks to the group's rich pop sensibilities, haunting boy-girl harmonies, and rock solid instrumentation. Their debut EP "Painted and Weathered", released in 2009 on Kingston-based label YGK Records, is a banjo and cello driven album that breaks away from standard indie-folk songs. The band's DIY approach and natural vibe helps "Painted and Weathered" come across as fresh, and spirited. Monuments and Statues released their sophomore EP "Welcome to the Undertow" in June 2010, also on YGK Records. A departure from the band’s earlier release, Welcome to the Undertow is fuller and more deliberately written to showcase the great depth and talent of the group’s entire cast. Undertow trims the fat, delivering a spartan lineup of four deftly written tracks that introduce new ideas and variations. With "Undertow", Monuments and Statues have created a work of artistic expression that pushes the boundaries of their sound, while remaining true to their roots.

In the summer of 2010, the band performed at Kingston’s Wolfe Island Music Festival and at the Pitter Patter Music Festival in Toronto. Since the band’s inception they have opened for Canadian indie music mainstays such as Mother Mother, Hey Ocean, The Lovely Feathers, Immaculate Machine, The Zolas and many more.