The finest bands create not only great songs but also mood, and no one gets that like Austin’s Monahans. The four-piece group named itself after the tranquil West Texas oasis, but the band’s tone is dark and unnerving, like a storm rolling in— all pounding drums and big guitar riffs, alternately thunderous and eerily ambient. Monahans morphed from Milton Mapes, an Austin band led by Greg Vanderpool and Roberto Sánchez, and yet despite the name change, it is essentially the same outfit, a bit less alt country and a bit more bombastic. Vanderpool has an uncanny knack for juxtaposing beautiful melodies over sonic fireballs, and his bandmates have clearly listened to their Crazy Horse and U2 albums. At first listen, Dim the Aurora (Misra) sounds unfinished; most songs are short and stop abruptly, and of the album’s hour, 29 minutes are taken up by instrumentals. But this lends a fascination and mystery to the band’s second album that you wouldn’t find on a more conventional recording. When the best songs end before you want them to, you’re left hungry for more.
From the June 2009 Issue Subscribe