March of the Jack Boots - Monkeypig (Subversive Song Records)
Monkeypig covers a lot of ground in the space of its 10 punk-pop songs. An entirely self-sufficient and self-produced band now based in Newcastle, north of Sydney, it’s the vehicle for front-of-house operator and band-member-around-town, Christian Ryan.
“March of the Jack Boots” was recorded in a home studio in the bushy Sydney suburb of Engadine. No offence to Engadine, but it’s an unlikely well-spring of musical creativity. Ryan recorded, mixed, mastered, sang lead vocals and played almost all the instruments. He wrote every song except one (a co-write). The label is his own. Considering the record’s humble origins, he must have a good ear because the album sounds great.
I know what you’re thinking. Let’s detour at this point and say the term “vanity project” is often applied derisively but also frequently mis-used. I put it to you, Your Worship, that musical performance of any form involves at least a little vanity as well as a desire/need for self-expression. “Look at me, look at what I can do,” is not a universal negative. When it’s good, those of us that cannot do can only stand back and admire. Nod our heads in time. Or dance. The case rests. Plus, Monkeypig manages to sound more substantial than the usual raced-off, half-baked demo.
Far from being a bedroom musician. Christian Ryan has a few bands behind him, mostly of the hard rock variety. He's also done the "jobbing muso" routine in cover acts. Onb the strength of thios record, he has a good handle on this garage-pop thing. Some of his songs recall Spy vs Spy or the first Foo Fighters album (before they became a rank-smelling stadium wank.) Monkeypig wears an Oz pub rock badge. Christian Ryan can play and the songs are well-written, most laced with his melodic, nagging and, at times. fiery guitar playing.
Lyrically, “March of the Jack Boots” is a libertarian take on life. “My World” is a super catchy rocker along those lines with a taut lead-break. Some of the songs stylistically bounce from stoner pop-rock to punk with twinges of surf twang. That could be a drawback but this time the variety works. The spikey “Super Lomon Dayze” is a real keeper and “Into The Pit” is an instrumental with bite. Opener “Waitin” is top-shelf power-pop that could have been a Happy Hate Me Nots song, in another time and place.
You can listen to and grab some individual tracks here or go the whole hog and procure the LP or CD here. If you like what you hear you can catch Monkeypig live - yes, a full line-up - at the Lass O’Gowriie Hotel in Wickham, Newcastle, on November 12 and the Valve Bar in Sydney in the afternoon of November 13.