The Southern California psych scene is flourishing these days, with bands such as Earthless, Joy, Brian Ellis Group and Astra conjuring new magic from styles of bygone years. But no other band channels the colour, warmth and energy of the coastal SoCal scenery as well as San Diego’s native sons Monarch. ”Two Isles”, their debut album, was recorded and produced by local glitterati Brian Ellis, adding a sense of focus and depth to the sound these guys have been developing throughout years and years of aural explorations while growing up together.
More than anything ”Two Isles” is the perfect head trip for easy summer days – or all those other days you wish felt like those. It’s full of breezy Allman Brothers guitar leads gliding effortlessly on top of gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, prog-rock structures. Even when it get’s blustery and heavy there’s an airy, inviting quality to Monarch’s music that makes you feel all fuzzy inside. With supreme musicianship they’re somehow connecting the dots between classic California rock, prog, pastoral pop and the vivid, expansiveness of early 1990s British shoegaze.
Indeed these guys have created something that transcends sounding like a time capsule. While psychedelia might be the prism that everything is projected through, ”Two Isles” reveals the fact that this is a group of people who grew up on a wide range sounds available in the diverse San Diego scene: ambient, indie, math, jazz and whatever else was available to experience. It’s about mood and texture as much as it’s about the ROCK, and might just be the perfect companion for travelling somewhere, physically or mentally.