The new record from San Francisco based band Monophonics entitled “In Your Brain” sits on the fuzzy psych side of soul and funk. Paying homage to innovators such as Sly Stone, Norman Whitfield and Funkedelic’s George Clinton, the 6 piece outfit displays their ability to put a moody stamp on each composition. Touching on everything from cinematic soul, heavy funk, 60’s rock and spaghetti western laced with yellow sunshine acid, the album is sure to leave you tuned in and turned on!
With a new sound and a do it yourself attitude towards making records, Monophonics’ guitarist Ian McDonald and keyboardist/vocalist Kelly Finnigan took on the duties of engineering and producing. Finding influence and gear advice from Orgone’s Sergio Rios as well as articles from Daptone’s Gabe Roth and Shawn Lee, they purchased an 8-track Â¼ inch tape machine, vintage microphones, spring reverbs and tape delays and dug into Finnigan’s basement in SF. “Half the battle making records in this genre is tone and vibe, we have figured out over the years that it might be the simplest written song but with the right production it can become timeless” explains McDonald.
Jumping right out of the gate is the single “There’s A Riot Going On”. Starting with a snare fill that’s reminiscent of Jimi’s “Machine Gun.” Riot displays what becomes a consistent theme on the whole record: hard drums, catchy bass lines, dirty horns, organs mixed with vibraphones, fuzz guitar and soulful vocals sitting on a sheet of echo & slap back. The title track “In Your Brain” sounds like something straight off of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”, riding on the funk box and Bohlman’s snare snaps is a blaring guitar line that brings back thoughts of Eddie Hazel. In the tradition of 60’s soul label Brunswick comes the heart wenchers “Deception” and “They Don’t Understand.” One a dark 6/8 slow groove that catches your ear right away and the other a boom bap driven ballad that confronts the human fears of dreams and love lost.
“Bang Bang” is one of the three meticulously chosen covers. The band approaches the famous 60’s pop song with a no holds barred attitude inspired by various versions from Betty Chung to Stevie Wonder to Nancy Sinatra. “Mirage,” is a tip of the hat to brilliant producer/composer David Axelrod and his innovative records on Capitol.”Temptation” a Cadillac riding classic, plays out as if John Berry wrote for blaxploitation films.
Collaborating with talented friends was another consistent theme on this record featuring a dozen or so different musicians, but the stand out feature are the vocals of that soulful crazy queen Fanny Franklin (Orgone, Get Wet) on “All Together” and tapping Sergio Rios to do the mix at Killion Sound. Killion has become a highly respected studio because of Rios’s dirty tones and soulful style as evidenced by the various Orgone releases plus recordings from artists like Jack Splash (Cee-Lo & Alicia Keys) and Ikebe Shakedown.