Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata - Barons & Bankers




They’re angry.  No doubt about that.  They’re talented.  No doubt about that either.  It’s punk, sort of. This is a ragged hint of reggae, a little bit of blues, wave or two of surf music and a whole lot of venom.

Vic Du Monte’s Persona Non Grata’s new release “Barons & Bankers” crosses musical boundaries.  It shifts the focus of hard rock style and wraps it in punk fury.  The gravelly slurry vocals sometimes reminiscent of Eric Burdon, sometimes Jim Morrison, and sometimes UFO, are those of Chris Cockrell , a California desert denizen and former bassist for Kyuss, who goes on stage as “Vic du Monte.”  du Monte also plays guitar, piano and blues harp. He is backed by James Childs on guitar, keyboards and background vocals.  Childs also produces the band. Alfredo Hernandez, the former drummer of Queens Of The Stone Age, sits behind the kit. Persona Non Grata’s most recent addition is bassist Dylan Roche.

The album “Barons & Bankers” starts off with an infectious song about one guy getting in the way of another guy’s pursuit of a woman. It is aptly named “Cockblocker” and could easily become a classic.  It is followed by “Raising To The Ground,” a tune that harks back to early rock blues of the 1960’s.  It is a crowd ready song that will pump the audience into a head banging call and response. The next song “Never Home” drives to the limit, pulls back on the throttle, and then again hits the gas.  It is about an attempted hook up that never quite occurs.

When the band starts up “Barons & Bankers” you are transported to the roadhouse that Jim Morrison sang about in the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and you can hear the call of the Rolling Stones’ “When The Whip Comes Down.”  “Chief Running Scams” queues up next and is a classic punk type song with staccato delivery, banging guitar, screeching leads, and screamed lyrics.  A slow tune embellished by du Monte’s blues harp, “Truth And Consequences” is a quieter journey in 4/4 time.  The track that follows, called “Wog Box,” is a fun anthem about the sheer happiness of the Ghetto Blaster.  The song morphs from rock to punk rock to reggae to classic rock and it all works magnificently. 

As the band plays “Running To The Moon” you start to feel that this band could quickly become the next “big thing.”  Like Green Day did on their way to superstardom you can hear Persona Non Grata evolve toward a more accessible punk sound with a heavy rock crossover.  “Running To The Moon” is followed by a rock anthem - “Vanished From The Scene.”  It is a catchy well-written tune that quickly bops along within the echo of the wind with interesting orchestration.  The band then does “Invisible,” which starts off with a howl Wolfman Jack would have admired.  This tune is classic rock and roll and would sound right at home on the harder rocking radio stations.  Vic also uses thesong as an opportunity to show off his blues harp chops.  The album ends with “Man Trap,” a more traditional punk song, if there is such a thing.  Large amounts of air are pushed through amplifiers as the band goes into high intensity overdrive. Feedback, guitar bursts, rills, drum volleys, breakdown, anger vocals - it’s all there.

This release is an unexpected guilty pleasure.  It shouldn’t take long for Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata to cement itself as an iconic rock experience.  This is definitely a band that will bend your ear.

- Old School

2 comments:

Penfold said...

Old School, I'll admit it. It took me two listens to wrap my head around the vocals, but once I understood what to expect I really liked the vibe this band puts out. Very throwback sounding to me, and very cool!

Old School said...

Penfold, you are right. They do take a bit of brain processing to get over the initial shock of du Monte's gravelly, slurry, voice. However, when you listen a few times you realize they fit and are quite unique.

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