The Lyricologist | 09/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking at this release, then you're well aware that one criticism against the "jam band" community has been that the bands are great live, but struggle in the studio. Fortunately, that concept has been proven false with a number of excellent studio releases over the last several years and that trend solidly continues with this release by New Monsoon!
I'd been aware of these guys for awhile and have copies of a number of their concerts, but didn't have any of their studio work because, to me, their live shows sounded like a band that was still in search of their true sound. Granted, the members of New Monsoon are incredibly talented, at various points in any given song they can sound like everyone from Santana to the Allmans to Zappa, with a healthy dose of wide open exploration layered over all of it. While those ingredients can make for an exhilarating live show, it's tough to replicate it in the studio (just ask the Grateful Dead).
But, with this release, New Monsoon (and the co-production team of Paul Kimble and ace percussionist Michael Shrieve) have managed to capture the lightning in a bottle and have come out with a stellar release! Each song is well crafted and appropriately loose limbed enough to have you bouncing around your living room, while remaining tight enough to have the jams serve the song and leave plenty of room for further exploration in a live setting.
You'll still hear passages that are reminiscent of their influences but those nods bear the imprint of paying respectful (and playful) homage. To my ear, the pacing and delivery of the vocals in "Rock Springs Road" are even pleasantly reminiscient of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.
Stylistically, some might be tempted to describe "The Sound" as similar to "Anchor Drops" by Umphrey's McGee but that might be as much of a stretch as comparing, say, the Allmans to Rush. Sure, the music of both cover a lot of musical ground, but where "Anchor" uses elements of prog rock for a lot of it's foundation, "The Sound" has a much more natural or earthy feel. Put it this way, "Anchor" frantically lurches between styles, but on "Sound" the transitions flow. For my tastes, "The Sound" is my clear listening preference.
On that note, I'll suggest that this release easily compares favorably with the excellent recent studio releases by LoS, moe., Phish, WSP, Railroad Earth, Jupiter Coyote, etc...and it certainly will be getting more time in my changer than the underwhelming "One Step Closer" by former label mates SCI.
If you've read this far, then you know you like this kind of music - "The Sound" will make you smile and want to dance! Buy it!"
GO SEE THEM
T. D. Smith | Martinsburg, WV | 06/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While this has become one recording that I find myself gravitating toward and playing quite often, I was not prepared for the performance that I witnessed live. Smilefest 2006 was scene of the crime. Incredible, inspired, and jammy. The smile on my face stayed for days. As with most 'Jam' bands the emphasis is on live music. And if you support live music and like the 'Jam' genre, well then this is for you. This band will be the leader of the next Jam wave. Someone has to and the Jam kingdom has no king right now. I can't describe how good this band is, you must witness it. The percussion alone with a tabla player, conga player, and drummer is something to behold. You will hear lots of sound influences from around the world. The band did Pink Floyd's Echoes and it was beautiful. Anyway back to the album - heartfelt, intricately textured rock tunes (ala String Cheese Incident, even Grateful Dead maybe) but better from a studio perspective. I hate to ring out names of other bands, but you have start somewhere so the reader gets the general idea. The record is pretty much flawless from start to finish. No filler, no useless material, all possible classics. They are picking up speed and getting a name. Seeing is believing though. Check it out."