This week, "What's Spinning" takes another look at an artist reviewed before in this column.
Many artists constantly work to improve their craft, and the same can be said about Here Be Monsters, who has taken several years to write "On the Road by the Sea." The full-length album is a collection of previous songs, remastered and reimagined by the artist to be the most accurate representation of their art.
He pairs them with new songs that are indicative of some musical and lyrical growth. Some of the reimagined songs have additional instruments or different styles of background instrumentals that eloquently add to the overall pleasantness of the album.
So, we're back with another album from Georgia-based Here Be Monsters (aka Herbie Munster), who has taken the past five years to compile a collection of songs worthy of punk rock accolades.
This album starts with "Existence," which is a rehash of an older acoustic song that feels slightly more gripping with drums and electric instruments behind it. Ideals of anarchism and reform are expressed in this great start to the album.
The song brings energy, wakes the listener up and readies them for what follows. Elements of punk rock all the way back to the Subhumans can be felt in this intro track that sets the stage for "On the Road by the Sea."
Moving along, the album takes a little bit of a Harley Poe approach to music, incorporating a bit of a polka feel and horror in "The Beast." The song compares a society, desensitized to war and nationalism to a devouring beast that inevitably destroys all. It's an interesting concept, especially paired with a great musical accompaniment of the upstroked guitars and concertina.
While "Thomas Jefferson was a Racist" is perhaps the most interesting history lesson one will hear, it also might be the most memorable song on the album. Approaching history with a different lens than the common textbook can open eyes and begin changing the status quo view of historical figures. Here Be Monsters challenges the established notions of everyone from Thoreau to Christopher Columbus. The song simply serves as a reminder that historical figures are not what they are painted to be or what the public is conditioned to believe.
"Do You Remember?" brings the listener back to the days of Defiance Ohio's folk punk sound that tells a story and still offers a snazzy, danceable and fast-paced beat. Here Be Monsters definitely channels the first wave of folk punk in this song about friendship and partnership.
Lyrics, such as "arm in arm we're going down, but at least we're going down together," brings a comfortable feeling to a song that takes the listener back to simple times and basement shows when punk rock was what mattered. Life can be a drag, but its more fun if it's a drag with someone you care about.
"On the Road by the Sea" ends with "If & When." The song feels like a wrapup of everything before and brings together all the songs in a calm "unpunk" tune that can make even the most down clown put on a smile. The song also sets up Here Be Monsters for a whole future of new songs and experiences and begs the question, "what's next"? It may be hard for some to reflect on their life and put those choices and experiences into song, but Here Be Monsters accomplished just that in an artistic and innovative way that leaves the listener feeling at peace with the entire album.
"Existence is only the beginning of a beautiful end" can possibly sum up the entirety of the album even in the first song. The line holds so true with the entire album and is constantly a reminder that different perspectives on everything in life are a needed and welcomed theme.
This album is a great collection of songs new and old for anyone to get into and enjoy. The album contains fast, dance songs and also has acoustic heart-filled songs that Here Be Monsters has mastered. Overall, "On the Road by the Sea" can bring a tear, coax a smile and light a fire in anyone who listens to the tracks. Thumbs up and highly recommended to those wanting a "new" band to listen to on their iPods.
Check out "On the Road by the Sea" at herebemonstersofficial.bandcamp.com/album/on-the-road-by-the-sea.