This week saw the release of a few more high-quality, noteworthy albums, adding to the already-impressive fall season for local music lovers. Let’s jump in and have a listen.
Fans of local heartwarmers Monocle Band have heard the new record by now, and you should, too. “The Clearing” is one of the best-sounding and finest-composed works I’ve had the pleasure of taking in this year, and it’s no wonder. I’ve always been a fan of the songwriting duo of Monocle’s lead singer Monica Labonte and lead guitarist Bill Huston, and this record may be the pair’s best output yet.
That they teamed up with well-respected local engineer Jon McVey — and even tapped him as a producer — shows that Bill’s and Monica’s smarts don’t end at the fretboard. The sound of this album from beginning to end delivers that punchy excitement you really want to hear when listening to a mostly acoustic group.
Fire up “The Clearing” on Spotify, and if you like it, buy it! Help the band make more music. Make sure more of your dollars go to them by ordering from the band’s website (via Bandcamp), at monocleband.com.
When I think of local acoustic all-stars, my mind goes to another recognizable female voice of the Front Range and the polished pickers of The Railsplitters. The Railsplitters’ sound is unique, and in the past, I’ve likened them to a vocal pop group with bluegrass instruments.
The band just released their Kickstarter-backed third album, “Jump In,” and like Monocle’s new disc, this one is an honest sonic treat. And I think compared to the last two, this one features a little more of that bluegrass chop. Catchy melodies, check. Three complimentary soloists in a five-person band, check.
Lauren Stovall’s voice is one of those that captures fans for the band like the trolling lines of a sea fishing vessel. Wherever they go, when her voice cuts through, you see the heads turn. It’s been a while since the last output from the band, so hearing it again, I’m reminded of the subtle depth of tone she has going on while belting out volume that belies her diminuitive physical stature.
Same deal here: Have a listen to “Jump In.” And for the love of local music, buy it if you like it!
Rounding up the bluegrass releases of the last couple weeks, Trout Steak Revival recently released their new record, “Spirit to the Sea,” and I love it for several reasons.
First, I love that this band has a “claw hammer style” banjo player — Steve Martin famously reps the style of playing — and second, I love that each member of the band sings lead on different tunes.
A local ‘grass outfit here without a tinge of folk or Americana is hard to find. Trout Steak falls into that category, producing sensitive melodic compositions and executing with feel-good, multilayered harmony. My only dig is that the album’s dynamics seem constrained, which is a shame for such a noteworthy local band. Still, it’s a minor quibble and will not get in the way of anyone enjoying the record.
Find it online, and buy with pride.