Saturnalia Regalia!

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It's tempting to compare the Halifax band Monomyth to their famous '90s predecessors like Sloan and Eric's Trip; they certainly share those two bands' commitments to a catchy pop tune and a D.I.Y. lo-fi approach to recording. In fact, if you're in a very reductive mood, one could almost say their 2014 debut album, Saturnalia Regalia!, exists at the point where those two bands converge. That would be interesting enough on its own, but the quartet adds some additional elements to make its sound a little more unique than that simple math might promise. Josh Salter and Seamus Dalton's guitar interplay often dips into the prog rock realm, songs are punctuated by little sonic surprises like the doo wop break on "Candleholder" or the Sonic Youth-heavy guitar freakouts on "Downer," and the odd effects they run their guitars through (maybe a janky old chorus pedal?) give the album a slightly otherworldly feel. A couple songs, especially the epic closer "The Big Reveal," have a strong current of paisley underground-style psych coursing through them, too. Mixing weirdness with pop hooks is usually a winning approach when handled correctly, and Monomyth prove to be quite adept at getting the mix right. They never lose sight of the song and/or the melody, even when they are cutting loose with rave-ups ("Medicine Man") or tossing all sorts of off-kilter guitar fills and noises into the pot ("Something Else"). And despite the band having three songwriters, the album is super-tightly focused and holds together as a solid beginning-to-end listening experience. Part of that might be down to the very brief running time of under 30 minutes, but mostly it seems the guys in the band are operating on the same frequency. It makes for a strong debut that shows a healthy regard for the past and some great promise for the future, but even more importantly, it's a short, sweet, and weird blast of straight-ahead indie rock goodness that you can go back to anytime you need something like that.

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