Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Monkey House - Left (2016)

NEW MUSIC WEEK 2016 (NOVEMBER 14-20, 2016)

I've bookended this theme week with my top two contenders for Album of the Year for 2016: Norah Jones' Day Breaks and this release from Monkey House. I've told this story before, but it's worth repeating: back in 2008, I "liked" a Steely Dan group on Facebook and, because social media loves to sell my personal data, I soon saw an ad that said something along the lines of "if you like Steely Dan, you'll like this Monkey House album." Based on that Facebook ad, I bought the thing unheard and immediately fell in love with the music. I've since purchased the group's whole back catalog, checked out any new releases, all the time waiting in vain for these Canadians to tour rural East Texas. While I'm waiting, they've released this gem.

I'll let the album's press release do some of the heavy lifting for me:
singer/songwriter/arranger/producer Don Breithaupt's songs are both lyrically and musically sophisticated, and the meticulous care taken with them helps account for the length of time always taken between Monkey House albums (this is only the fifth one since 1992).
Click on the image below for full press release:

Fantastic writing, arranging, and slick production - tight background vocals, thick, syncopated horn parts, beautiful harmonies and mu chords (what are mu chords? read the book). It's a master class in smoothness. Simply put, Monkey House plays the notes I want to hear.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: There's nothing to skip here, but if I had to pick favorites, today I'd go with
  • My Top 10 List, which contains the best lyric on the album: "single malt, double shot, triple fun"
  • the half-time feel of When The Kid Comes Home
  • Good To Live which was co-written by West Coast/AOR legend Jay Graydon and features Graydon on guitar (immediately recognizable lick at the 3:00 mark)
  • the moody shuffle of It's Already Dark In New York with its muted trumpet from Steely Dan stalwart Michael Leonhart
  • Tango By Yourself is a throwback tune to the group's earlier sound and that's fine with me. And what's this? A tasty accordion solo? There's something you don't hear everyday.
  • Anyone - which is a really a ballad with a busy drum part underneath that makes it not really ballad - imagine Steve Gadd crashed a late '70s David Pack/Ambrosia recording session.
  • The stuttering lyrics and syncopated bass line of It Works For Me work for me (too easy?). But good lawd, I can't get the chorus out of my head - how many hooks are on this line?
  • Maybe None Of This Would Have Happened starts off like a Joe Jackson joint, but quickly becomes a yacht rock-ish duet and then I check the credits and Marc Jordan co-wrote the thing and it all makes sense to me now.
  • What Is Exactly Is It That You Do All Day? is middle-age white boy funk-lite at its finest and contains the second best lyric on the album "What exactly is it that you do all day if you're not missing me?" which sounds like something I'd say if I had thought of it. To be honest, all the lyrics on this one are hilarious. Oh, and did I mention this one has another earworm for a chorus?
  • The satiric lyrics over a funky groove continues with Death By Improvement. Lots of solos on this one; including an Aja-ish drum solo from Mark Kelso.
  • The last track, a fully orchestrated ballad, is the ironically titled The Art of Starting Over yet its a perfect closer. And just when I'm thinking, a trumpet solo would be perfect here, there it is.
Did I just list every song on the album as my favorites? Huh. How about that?

Thanks, Don. FYI, I'm available for any future sessions you might have. ☺

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Big Money: Singles, Remasters, Rarities, 1992-2005 (2005)

Just Passing Through: The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook, Vol. II (2014)

1 comment:

  1. You get full credit for introducing me to Monkey House for whatever that's worth. This album is yet another in a line of winners.