Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
I dunno about you, but when I hear about a garage band that kills it live; that’s single-handedly reviving the pure punk spirit of a bygone era gilded in sepia and blood; whose mustachioed derelict singer lubricates the floor with a never-ending stream of bodily fluids; whose only instruments are a guitar and drum kit routinely set ablaze by said mustachioed derelict singer; AND who’ve been banned from playing most of their local clubs, I gotta wonder: “Are these guys from Israel?” Because seriously, that shit’s been done to death in America. Call me a relic or what you will, but the notion of getting drenched in someone else’s sweat while helping a shirtless 40-something rocker crowd-surf is a tad less appealing than the prospect of being stricken insensate by the Signature Cocktails of some obnoxious casual dining chain. For one thing, those casual dining places have to clean their bathroom floors every hour, a nicety likely overlooked at the dives frequented by Monotonix, the killer Israeli garage band in question.
Monotonix - Not Yet Capturing Monotonix's insane live energy on record must be one of the most difficult tasks in music, but if there's anyone qualified to do it, it's Steve Albini. Handed the production reins for the shit-kicking Israeli garage punk trio's second LP, the legendary recording engineer imbues it with the same raw, unadorned spirit he brought to the Pixies' Surfer Rosa and Nirvana's In Utero. Drums crash as if they're being smashed right next to the listener's head (as they often are in concert), dissonant guitars squeal as if turned to 11, and Ami Shalev's cacophonous howl juts through as if from the mouth of Iggy himself.
As long as vocalist Ami Shalev is emptying garbage cans on the head of drummer Haggai Fershtman, who in turn allows his drum set to be dismantled and passed around the venue like a high school "hey, wouldn't it be cool to join the drumline?" presentation, Monotonix will always be chained to their live show. Coupled with the fact that they're a nearly non-stop touring entity causes many to treat their actual album like mere footnotes. There's a chance that this could change with Not Yet, which is far and beyond the Israeli garage rock trio's most fully formed, varied stab at being recognized as a viable studio act as opposed to just some bizarre performance art installment with riffs, all while maintaining the concise nature of their previous releases.
Monotonix wants to kick your ass. Not literally, of course, but with sound, and at the end of their latest album, Not Yet, the band would be happy to share a beer afterwards, too. Like a punk rock Rolling Stones, Monotonix brings its A game and holds nothing back. The band knows exactly who they are and has no intention of “maturing” or “experimenting” or any of that other crap.
Before I listened to Not Yet, Monotonix's third album for Drag City, I thought I might actually be able to review it without mentioning the Israeli trio's circus-style live act. After all, their previous two records were surprisingly good for a band known more for spectacle than their music, which tends to get lost in all their live chaos. So it seemed possible that they had reached a level where their sound itself could be as noticeable as their shows.
Ten songs of crude, cave-art proto-metal For those who are not familiar with Monotonix, they’re the garage rock band from Israel who are best known for their live sets, in which they play amidst the crowd and climb up / over things that the venue did not intend to be climbed up / over. That leaves this forlorn album reviewer with no visuals nor an earhole full of sweat, instead just 10 songs of crude, cave-art proto-metal and a duty to tell you that actually, Monotonix have a relevance outside of the live context. Or that they don’t.