Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy
Of all the albums I’ve been anticipating since its imminent release was announced months ago, number one on my list is Monster Truck’s Sittin’ Heavy, out February 19th. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, and one of Canada’s best-kept secrets, I first discovered Monster Truck when I attended the 2014 Heavy MTL festival in Montreal. As the festival is held at a park on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, the only logical access point is the local subway system which conveniently dropped concert commuters off below the park entrance. As myself, my girlfriend, our friend from New Jersey, and another mutual friend and resident Montrealite were coming up out of the subway tunnel toward the festival entrance, a band was already playing and man, were they ever laying down some of the sweetest grooves I’d ever heard! As we slowly made our way through the cattle chute in the late morning sun, the grooves kept flowing and rocking, as we were head bobbingly serenaded. Once we finally reached the entrance I had to run over and see who was making that killer sound.
Unfortunately, their opening set was nearly over and I didn’t have a chance to get close enough to see much of the stage, but I looked on my festival schedule and looked them up and made a mental note: “Monster Truck – I gotta look those guys up later!” The next week after I arrived back in sunny California, I looked them up and discovered one of the greatest albums I’d heard in a long time, 2013’s Furiosity, an album that has gotten hundreds and hundreds of spins on my iPod (spins…plays…whatever!) since. Needless to say, I have been waiting for a new Monster Truck album like a thirsty man who’s been in the desert for 40 days, so I was absolutely stoked when they announced they were in the studio working on new material! Much to my absolute giddiness, they have released the album a week early for streaming via YouTube, and after a few listens I had to sit down and write about it.
First, let me preface by saying that after about 4-5 listens, I’m convinced that Sittin’ Heavy is every bit as killer as it's predecessor. The album starts off with a song title asking one of the most poignant questions of today: “Why Are You Not Rocking?”, which has one of the best choruses I’ve heard put to tape “rock and roll might save your life, it might save your life tonight!” Amen brothers, preach it!!! “Don’t Tell Me How To Live” continues the sermon with a killer guitar riff backed with equally killer Hammond B-3 organ that sounds like every Hammond B-3 – AWESOME! Monster Truck capture that vintage 70’s hard bluesy rock vibe as well or better than anybody going today. “She’s A Witch” begins with the guitar playing a bluesy riff then picks up quickly as organ, bass and drums jump into the fray. Up next is a Southern fried rocker with a distinct country vibe in “For The People”, complete with slide guitar solo and harmony vocals aplenty. “Black Forest” is a heavy rock ballad that provides a change of pace that opens with a lightly playing Hammond melody and bluesy guitar fills as the vocals sing a lamenting melody, then builds to a heavier cry during the sorrowful choruses. “Another Man’s Shoes” is a heavy rocking bluesy shuffle that leads to more head-bobbing and toe-tapping. “Things Get Better” picks up the pace again with a driving piano and bass rhythm during the verses with killer guitar riffing in the choruses. Up next is “The Enforcer” an anthem that is certainly destined to be a staple in NHL arenas sooner than later. (Side note: these guys actually play beer league hockey back home and sponsor youth hockey teams, which to the Riffcaster takes their coolness factor far beyond the stage.) “To The Flame” continues the rocking by backing the tempo to a slower stomping pace thick with organ and rhythm section as the guitar winds around and riffs it up. “New Soul” ups the ante as well as the tempo with a driving gallop punctuated by killer choruses, leading into a groovy lead guitar breakdown before ramping back up. Closing the ride is “Enjoy The Time” a tune that begins with an upbeat simple organ melody, building to a vibe not unlike the Skynyrd classic “Simple Man.”
The guitar is tasty and rocking throughout, the vocals are bluesy and gritty, the bass and drums are toneful and always in the pocket, and the Hammond B-3 is simply divine! Seriously, every keyboard player everywhere needs to throw away their synths and invest in a vintage Hammond B-3 and a Fender Rhodes piano!!! (Except you prog-rock guys, you can keep your synths if you promise to use a B-3 and a Rhodes every once-in-a-while! LOL!) Ok, I think I’m going to go do my pre-order of the album now, man I hope these guys make it out to California!!!