Not so long ago, I checked out Mona's EP. Now this week sees the American release of their self-titled debut album, Mona. Clad in skinny jeans and James Dean haircuts, this Nashville-based band exudes swagger, with Nick Brown on lead vocals/guitars, Vince Gard on drums, Zach Lindsey on bass/vocals, and Jordan Young on guitar and vocals.
The album still has the same static-y guitars and rock indie sound but with the additional songs comes a very satisfying range not captured in the EP. The track "I Seen" highlights their Southern blues-rock roots, while "Alibis" gives a nod to it dressed in a plaintive croon. For a change of pace, "Pavement" opens up with piano before moving into a quieter version of their power chords. "Shooting the Moon" gives us the same kind of controlled wall of sound we heard in "Trouble On The Way," while "Taboo Lights" and "The Tally" turns a bit more pop. "Lines In The Sand" still remains their big anthem and I think is the one I'm most intrigued to hear live. I still feel a strong shoegaze influence in their music, but I can never imagine that these guys, with their brash rock and roll attitude, would look to the floor while belting out their angry lyrics. In fact, while I haven't had the pleasure yet of seeing them live, I've heard that their energy while performing is one of the biggest treats of this band.
With the UK release of their album, they garnered some not-so-flattering comparisons to Kings Of Leon, but I think those criticisms were both hasty and a little unfair. (Consider, for a moment, that these comparisons were drawn, for the most part, at the height of Kings Of Leon's popularity but before their rather safe Come Around Sundown album.) While there are certainly similarities in style between the two Nashville bands--driving rhythms, big arena-filling songs, a polished angst--I'm rather hoping this might be an indication of a certain geographical area's "sound" developing because the fact of the matter is, I like it. A lot. Mona has a composed rawness and an edge that, while polished, is not calculated.
I think it's no secret Mona has a few fans up in this joint, and while some may be turned off by a little cockiness I think that's exactly what will take this band far. I'm looking forward to seeing what else they'll come out with in the future and hopefully increased touring dates. In the meantime, here's a taste of their acoustic summer session series (not included on the album).
Mona is now available on iTunes and Amazon.