CD: 10 Songs; 43:19 Minutes
Styles: Swamp and Roots Rock, Blues Rock
Five words that no one will ever say while listening to Moon Turn Red, the blazing fourth album from Canadian band MonkeyJunk, are: “I can’t hear the guitar.” Indeed, this is an incendiary box of electric explosives. Once swamp and roots rock fans “Light It Up,” the fretwork fireworks begin. What this album is not is a pure, traditional blues CD. Only one track, reviewed below, even possesses the requisite swaying rhythm for slow blues. It’s worth a listen, though, especially at roadhouse bars, outdoor festivals, and parties involving several adult beverages. MonkeyJunk knows how to have a good time, and they’ll help crowds of any size do the same.
Their website reveals: “The 2008 birth of the Ottawa-based band MonkeyJunk came along just when music fans needed them the most. They brought an accessible and refreshing blend of swamp-rock roots and blues to the table and haven’t looked back. In the relatively short time they’ve been performing and recording together, the members of MonkeyJunk have won a collective 20 Maple Blues Awards, two Canadian Independent Music Awards, a Blues Music Award (USA), and have been nominated twice for a JUNO Award, taking home the coveted hardware in 2012.
“Straight out of the gate, MonkeyJunk quickly became one of the most popular new bands on the scene, performing at festivals and packed venues across the country, amassing a large audience of devoted fans, affectionately called “MonkeyJunkies”. In fact, they hit the road for a tour before their debut album Tiger In Your Tank was even released.”
Performing nine original songs and one cover are the regular band members: Tony Diteodoro (known as Tony D) on lead guitar and backing vocals, Steve Marriner on lead and backing vocals, baritone guitar, harmonica, vibes and keyboards; and Matt Sobb on drums, percussion, and backing vocals. Joining them are guest musicians David Wilcox (guitar and vocals on the cover of his classic “Hot Hot Papa”); Gordie Johnson and Steve O’Connor on Hammond organ; Ken Friesen and Nick Diak as gang vocalists along with the band on “Love Attack”, and harmony vocalists Kelly Prescott and Kelly Sloan.
As mentioned earlier, the following tune is the sole representative of the traditional blues genre:
Track 07: “Learn How to Love” – Lucky number seven, a romantic slow-burner, features a staccato guitar intro reminiscent of those from Too Slim and the Taildraggers. Its lyrics are hard-hitting yet sweet: “The wardrobe is empty. The pictures are gone, with all your possessions that made this a home. Tossing and turning where we used to dream – if time only gave us a chance to redeem.” Kelly Prescott provides background vocals as crisp and flavorful as Canadian maple syrup, and Steve Marriner’s haunting harmonica is to die for.
One thing this CD has in spades, which some conventional blues albums lack, is terrific vocals. Some guitar players believe that if they play a decent shredder, that’s all they need to make a fantastic release. Not MonkeyJunk – they know how to make the Moon Turn Red for lovers of swamp and roots rock!