The Show: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
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Not fancy, just fabulous: Red Monroe is arty and rockish but never fake.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Red Monroe

Dallas’ Red Monroe may seem like just another pretentious art-rock contrivance. The band has been compared to Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and probably whatever other successful rock outfit with anti-mainstream tendencies you can name.
But don’t be scared. The quintet manages to crowd a handful of diverse sonic motifs — from gospel-ish unison singing to ethereal synth washes to psychedelic guitar-based funk — into nearly every tune and still come off as honest, not gratuitous. Teetering along the border between abject improvisation and disciplined professionalism, Meeting on a Train, Red Monroe’s debut full-length, is polished and, in the best way possible, abstract. Instead of deconstructing the concept of the epic rock song into a perversion of music — like so many other, similar bands — Red Monroe approaches the task from the inside out. The band never forgets that without a solid foundation of melody and rhythm, even the “best” intellectualized music will bomb. Even though “Sympathy for Geno” swims in dissonance and is made doubly painful by lead singer Eric Steele’s strong yet crazed vocals, the song marches along at a neat, orderly clip. Equally beautiful in its ugliness, “Our Love” sounds as if it was recorded by 10 bands at once — so many parts are going in so many different directions — yet a massive, hugely sung chorus keeps everything together. Novices, please don’t try this at home.
Red Monroe is rightfully getting noticed. Through the end of this month, the band is the featured artist on Sony’s Acid Planet web site (www.acidplanet.com). (Previous featured artists include David Bowie, Black Eyed Peas, and Lenny Kravitz.) In February, a Red Monroe song appeared on the free compilation c.d. that accompanied that month’s issue of CMJ: New Music Monthly, alongside Kings of Leon, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ..., and Ani DiFranco. Meeting on a Train is available at Virgin Megastore, CD World, and Good Records. For more information, go to www.redmonroe.com. — Anthony Mariani

Sat with DJ Swamp and French Kicks at Trees, 2709 Elm St, Dallas. 214-748-5009.


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