My New Favorite Album is from 2015 But Sounds 50 Years Old

Sound of Sinning Monophonics

A guy selling his CDs on Hollywood Blvd once came up to me and inquired if, “I liked good music?” as a way of getting me interested in his album. My reply caught him off guard, “No, no I don’t.” He walked off. I wasn’t trying to be rude or difficult, I was genuinely referencing a recent realization that I don’t like or relate to chart topping music, what our culture collectively determines to be “good”.

In fact, I’ve always found it annoying that music can only fall into two categories to be considered “good”: Brand new and chart topping, which emphasizes novelty over thoughtfulness; and old school, which is previously new chart topping music that is now significantly old enough that it’s cool to listen to it again.

This album is neither of those. For me, music I connect with isn’t something I consume and discard like a quick drive-through lunch on a road trip. It’s something I soak in, it becomes a part of me, I turn to it again and again when I need to commiserate or be lifted up.

I recently discovered Monophonics and their 2015 album Sound of Sinning. Formed in San Francisco in 2005, Monophonics is to vintage-revival hard soul like The Black Keys are to fuzzy, indie blues rock.

Driving bass lines, funky vibrato guitars, powerfully soulful vocals, and low-fi horn sections recorded on an old Tascam eight-track 1/4” tape machine create an album moody enough for a quiet night of intimate conversation but energetic and rocking enough to drop the needle on when your buddies come over for some old fashioneds before you head to wherever you’re going. If you didn’t know this music was only 3 years old you’d swear it was decades old. I arrived at this album from listening to stations for Michael KiwanukaCharles Bradley and St. Paul and The Broken Bones.

The sound is distinctly 60s and 70s psychedelic soul, capturing all of the emotions of the original – love found, love sabotaged, and trying to be the strongest version of yourself to serve that love. The cry for help in Find My Way Back Home is a chorus every guy has sung when he’s found he’s way off path with a partner he took for granted.

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The mysterious landscape of La La La Love Me sounds like a dark Temptations song after the honeymoon period of My Girl has long passed. Forewarning, you’ll be singing the hook, “La La La La La La Is this forever?” for the rest of the day.

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Tonight, kick back, dim the lights and discover some music that isn’t new or old, just good. Looking for even more? Check out our Gentleman’s Intro to the Blues playlist.