So you're looking for the rock sampler of the year? Don't have much cash to spend? Trying to find some new music that's actually good? Mono vs. Stereo's first offering, the independent/unsigned band compilation The Revolution Will Begin In The Blink of An Eye Vol. 1, is what you've been searching for. Showcasing 15 up-and-coming artists, this compilation is the answer to mundane-rock monotony.
The disc kicks off with The Evan Anthem's "Goodnight, Good Fight," a rough mix that will appear in final form on this band's and MVS's debut album in September. Original modern rock with an emo feel, this song will make you think of everything that is right with alternative Christian music today. Fans of Holland or Jimmy Eat World will dig The Evan Anthem, as well as Wellwater with "On Our Way" and Johnny Come Lately's "Carry On." House of Heroes, an Ohio band that Relient K's Matt Thiessen has been talking about for ages, presents a standout track on the compilation with "Mercedes Baby," leaning more toward the side of Philmore's pop-punk with its hooky melody that just won't get out of your head.
Rock fans with a craving for something slightly more hardcore won't be disappointed by Mono vs. Stereo's efforts, either. Songs like Embraced's "Saratoga," Showdown's "Vow of Silence," Colson's "Lately," whose vocalist can actually sound like Incubus's Brandon Boyd when he's not screaming his vocal chords out, and Boywunder's "Reflections that Pale in Comparison," the hardest (or least intelligible) of the set, are sure to fulfill anyone's yearning for melodic and/or screaming metalcore.
With all the garage rock "The" bands flooding the mainstream (The White Stripes, The Hives, The Vines), the scene seems to be set for some pioneering new band to come in and blow it all up again. Enter The Connotations. Their demo version of "We Are Trouble by the Truckloads" sheds a promising light on the future of this genre, as well as showing off the versatility of the band. It goes from brash, barely intelligible vocals to sensitive crooning to an almost-poppy climax, all in one song that actually sounds good as a whole. Fans of Coldplay will get into Marcco's "A Beautiful Life," taken from their indie EP A Guide to Basketball. Matt Beckler also makes a laid-back showing with his jazz-influenced "In My Head."
If you're looking for music that will lift your spirits or cheer your weary soul, this sampler may not be the place to turn. It rocks all the way through, giving underground alternative fans hope for the musical future, and it is heavily influenced by lyrical explorations of spirituality - but most of these bands make it obvious that they're not going to sugarcoat real life. They explore the darker aspects of their existence as well as the hope and peace they have found that counter them. For example, these lyrics of The Uriah Omen's sometimes bitter-sounding demo, "Maybe the Butler Did It" - "I know I don't matter to you/ well thank you, goodbye…" Andy Zipf's "Running Out" and The Back Alley Fights' "The Cellar" also fall into this category.
If for no other reason, though, buy this compilation for the last song. Matthew Thiessen and the Earthquakes appear with this side project's second recording ever, "Poison Ivy" (the first was "I Hate Christmas Parties" on BEC's Happy Christmas Vol. 3). Relient K's lead singer exposes his sensitive side again while tickling the ivories in this heartbreaking ballad. "Poison ivy/ a better condition than I be/ hook me to an IV/ and I whisper 'why me?'" The tender sincerity in Matt's voice hits home, and by the time the horns come in with "Now I'm broken up/ because we've broken up…," it's easy to completely forget that this is the same guy who penned such odes to nonsense as "I'm Lion-O" and "Gibberish" -except that the same loving and open heart shows through here as well in everything else he does.
If this first compilation is any indication, Mono vs. Stereo has some great things in its future. I highly recommend seeing for yourself what the fuss is all about - and for just $5.99, what reason can you possibly have for not becoming part of the Revolution?- Review date: 5/28/03, written by Jenn
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