New Monsoon - The Sound CD

The San Francisco septet comes roaring out of the gates with their first new studio album since 2003’s “Downstream.” The sound, as it were, is full, rich and a heck of a lot tighter than any other recording including the live masterpiece from 2004, “Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival”—a series of songs that would have placed most any band on a cozy cushion for quite some time, but not New Monsoon. The eleven tracks on “The Sound” crackle with diamond-edged hard rock that is equal parts 70s thunder and 21st Century power jam. “Journeyman” opens the heart of their old sound and exposes a band ready to move forward. “The Sound” has Jeff Miller writing a very political song about the media onslaught that surrounds us day in and day out—trading on civil liberties today, hoping for tomorrow’s national security; meanwhile, someone has to turn off those darn TVs.

"Sunrise">"Dark Perimeter" enters a Dark Star-lamb and exits as a roaring heavy lion, exposing the sordid periphery of a scene that is filled with negativity--again, Miller shines with astute lyrics and a robust guitar vibe wrapped in a great tune with the entire band focusing upon serving the song. And that's the great hook to "The Sound"--not one note isn't played with tight focus while displaying a hard maturity that can only come from many nights gigging throughout the States, experimenting with what works, what doesn't. For the most part, everything clicks on "The Sound." The early highlights are just an appetizer, however, for the full-on banquet of the second half as the final quartet offer a multi-layered feast: "Rock Springs Road" shimmers down an early Saturday morning with acoustic bliss, "Bridge of the Gods" is a road-tested gem which excels in its fiery instrumental transition to the studio; Miller plays a Mt. Rushmore solo that has everyone pushing the tempo on towards its epic coda. "Hold On For Now" is the best Pink Floyd song in 26 years and "Trees" is the pathos-riddled cherry on top of the cake--a piano lullaby to roll us back to "Journeyman" as I hit REPEAT yet again...

-- Randy Ray