If you’re like me, you’ve felt the absence of Danish label El Paraiso Records this year. Besides the mammoth Chicago Odense Ensemble reissue much earlier this year(it’s incredible so get it if you haven’t yet), it’s been pretty quiet over there in Odense. One of my absolute highlights every year is to see those announcements of album releases coming out of El Paraiso Headquarters. Without them my musical life has been incomplete. I’m just a shell of a man, really. Taking solace in booze, pills, and the occasional pint of Cookies n’ Cream ice cream.
At last, one of my favorite record labels has broken their silence and announced yesterday that they’re releasing not one, not two, not three, but four albums in August! Four! They’re trying something new and attempting to help guys and gals like myself in the states with bundling shipments due to postage increases at the beginning of the year. It’s the same cost to ship one LP as it is six. Makes sense, and I commend this chivalrous act. Thank you.
So first up is the California rock outfit Monarch.
California stoner/psych/free rock outfit Monarch released their debut Two Isles back in 2016 with the El Paraiso Records crew. That album felt like a well-worn jean jacket; comfortable, loose, and well lived-in. The guitar attack, groovy rhythm section, and soulful vocals all came together in an Allman Brothers-meets-Santana-meets-good trip vibe. It was equal parts Woodstock and Newport Jazz Festival.
Three years later their follow-up is ready for human consumption, and from the sound of first single, the three-part epic “Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart” the wait was well worth it.
This time around Monarch have gone full analog, recording to tape at Audio Design in San Diego. This gives the epic “Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart” a warm, inviting vibe. It’s an upbeat jam with intricate, bluesy guitar playing that is sometimes reminiscent of Allman Brothers, Aerosmith, and even moments of John McLaughlin’s bluesier moods. Monarch have tightened their sound up, taking their southern California psych jams from Two Isles to a whole new level of musical dexterity. The good vibes continue, but with what sound like deeper intentions.
Beyond the Blue Sky will be released in August. Keep checking back with El Paraiso Records for that preorder. In the meantime, check out the crystalline summer jams of “Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart” below(keep in mind, this is just an edited version of the whole piece, so take a taste.)