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Record Review: Monahans “Dim The Aurora”

monahans1501“It’s Enough To Leave You” is the opening track on Dim The Aurora, and it packs about a quarter-century of alt-rock reference points into its four-minute running time. From the awkwardly soaring chorus and the chunky, quirky, handclaps-and-piano rhythm line to the dynamic buildup that goes nowhere but is expansive and elegant getting there, “It’s Enough To Leave You” manages to subtly point fingers at everyone from Michael Stipe to Spoon to the Hold Steady, all while managing to sound quite unique. To these ears, however, Austin’s Monahans evoke nothing as much as the rambling sonic winsomeness of their Lone Star neighbor Will Johnson, although the 11 tracks on Dim The Aurora are decidedly more put-together and structurally sound than anything Johnson has ever done. Monahans graft singer/songwriter-type warbling and classic-rock guitar figures onto messy and gratifying beds of sound that incorporate regular instrumentation in highly irregular ways. There’s a definite sense that the sprawling guitars on cuts like “I Run To You” and the catchy, melancholy title track want to stretch out even further and that the buzz and howl of the three instrumental songs are a clarion signal as to the group’s real intent. In the same way that Johnson makes deceptively dense music that only seems simple and straightforward, Monahans have made an album that’s richly rooted in American rock traditionalism but also lurching noisily forward into something far more intriguing. [Misra]

—Jason Ferguson

“It’s Enough To Leave You” (download):

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Film At 11: Monahans

We named Low Pining, the debut by Austin’s Monahans, one of the 10 best albums you didn’t hear in 2007, saying it was like the Friends Of Dean Martinez resting under the lush sonic boughs of The Joshua Tree. Try not to miss the boat with follow-up Dim The Aurora (Misra), because this ship occasionally abandons the moodcore tempo and moves at a comfortable, Joseph Arthur-like clip. Here’s the video for album track “It’s Enough To Leave You…”

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Mall Rock: Hails To The Chiefs

lincoln330Amidst scouring Washington, D.C.’s Craigslist for an inauguration-week apartment and responding to automated emails from Michelle Obama about your chances of actually scoring tickets, pencil in Songs For Presidents, A Bands For Lands Benefit. Tonight’s event at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue serves as a counterpart to Of Great And Mortal Men: 43 Songs For 43 Presidencies, a three-disc boxed set (released by the Standard Recording Company) that features one song written for each American president. Live performances of commander-in-chief odes by J. Matthew Gerken, Jefferson Pitcher and Christian Kiefer will highlight the event, along with an opening set by These United States. The 44th song (Barack Obama’s) had been kept under wraps, but it was just announced that it’s called “Someone To Wake” and was performed by Kiefer and Will Johnson (Centro-matic). Of Great And Mortal Men includes a 100-plus page book featuring images of the presidents by 43 different artists. To quote from Kiefer’s song about President Tyler: “Oh! Hell yes!” Tracklisting after the jump.

“John Tyler (In Hindsight)” featuring Smog‘s Bill Callahan from Of Great And Mortal Men:

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