My first dip into Monkeemanmania was with the album Jumping on the Monkey Train (review below) and if you dig this, you need to seek out Burn To Shine amd Life in the Backseat as well. Monkeeman? Yep. More proof that great music is everywhere if you have the patience to seek it out.
Usually when a European band has this much 12-string jangle and 60s Britpop DNA, the smart money is on Sweden (Merrymakers, anyone?). But Monkeeman…well, Monkee-men, technically…is a German quartet so well versed in pop song craft that they could be from Missouri. Reportedly, at one point Ralf Luebke alone was Monkeeman, but the entire band deserves credit for this project – bassist Thomy Jordi, drummer Achim Farber and Zoran Grujovski on guitars and keyboards (the latter two co wrote the songs with Lubke). “Moving in Circles” is a killer leadoff track utilizing chiming pop guitars, soaring vocals and a strong chorus that will have you singing along before you even figure out the words. While that’s the high point of the album, what follows is well-crafted buoyant pop music that is well worth the journey.
Lubke’s voice is often eerily reminiscent of Michael Penn, without the depressing angst and baggage, of course. “No Kicks” and “Glad That You Love Me” mine the Penn trail so well they could fool Aimee Mann. Power pop aficionados will find that comparisons to Andy Bopp (“Painkiller”) and Michael Carpenter (“The Man In My Head”) are not out of line, either. The stellar “About a Boy”, all stops, starts and Lennonisms, is another that demands repeat play. There no rut here – good variety of tempos, some humor (“Crazy Ann”, as well as the requisite bonus track) and plenty of memorable hooks. Go get this!
Here are some links to newer Monkeeman music…
Monkeeman MySpace page – many streaming songs.
Monkeeman main website.