July 22, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

Remember Monument? They were one of the first bands to release a full-length on Tiny Engines—2011’s Goes Canoeing is TE106—a label that in the past half-decade, has quickly grown into one of the preeminent homes for up-and-comers from a swath of punk subgenres through careful curation. Monument were one of their first finds, with their sometimes irreverent take on screamy, abrasive, loosely-based-in-midwestern-emo rock music making them an interesting, if not entirely accessible choice for a fledgling independent label like Tiny Engines. Goes Canoeing was filled with great, unique-sounding songs through an unconventional lens, but for whatever reason, they didn’t catch on the way say, Tigers Jaw or Dikembe did.

Not long after Goes Canoeing was released, Monument sort of went away for all the reasons bands of their size typically do: School, work, relationships and other life responsibilities taking precedence over playing dingy suburban basements half-filled with nonplussed kids checking tumblr on their iPhones. Members of bands kids in that scene would consider “big” now still have to have day jobs to squeak by; Monument were never “big” in the literal or figurative sense, and as such, became a casualty to the requirements of the real world. So it goes. But given the current landscape, it’s not presumptuous to think that Monument could have been one of the scene’s tentpole bands had they wanted to pursue such a distinction. While hard work and good songs matter, timing is still (almost) everything.

But they didn’t. Other than a brief tour in 2009, Monument only played regional shows in Washington D.C. or within a few hours of there, and did so as their schedules allowed. If anyone cared, well, that was just a bonus. A few people cared a lot, as Matt Cohen recently pointed out in DCist:

A chorus of voices echoes out in unison as local emo-rockers Monument play the first chords of their last song on Saturday. Over the slow-building, melodic intro of the song ‘Breakfast,’ a crowd of more than a hundred at The Lab—an all ages DIY venue in Alexandria, Va.— sings along, drowning out the band’s own vocals: ‘I don’t eat breakfast every day / but I should,’ they sing in slow, gleefully emphatic unison. It’s not just the last song of the show, but the last song Monument will likely ever play together as a band.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2718757701/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

Now, with the final show in the books, Monument have self-released their second and final album, Bros Canoeing. (While it’s available as a name-your-price download, the band will be donating all money received to The House of Ruth, an organization that “helps women, children and families in greatest need and with the fewest resources build safe, stable lives and achieve their highest potential,” so give a few bucks if you can.) To say it’s bittersweet would be an understatement; to suggest that this record could be huge with proper promotion (or an active band behind it), even more so. The more abrasive elements found on Goes Canoeing are mostly absent in favor of a melody-forward approach. The vocals of Gabe Marquez and Dan Doggett, once harsh, have been sandpapered smooth. Every moment of the album feels more realized than its predecessor. The guitar interplay between Marquez and Anton Kropp is occasionally brilliant. The song titles (“Liam Neesons Straight Up Jacked Them Wolves,” “Krauty With A Chance Of Meatballs”) may be as irreverent as ever, but the songs themselves are clear indicators of an oft-overlooked, but hardly bitter band putting their best foot forward on their way out.

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