It is usual, and if we could say that there is an editorial policy on San Diego Acoustic.com, it would be that we write, on this site, about singer/songwriter artists and bands that perform original music, with or without doing cover tunes. I am breaking that rule, this once, because I know that this band is going to venture into some original material, and I’m just getting a head start, and letting you know, about a local San Diego treasure.
I have just sat in front of my computer screen and listened to a new EP of a local San Diego band mischievously named ‘little monsters’ and what a kick it has been. In a world where music is to often delivered with shameless lip-sync, stolen samples, mind-numbing digital drum and bass tracks, and an irrelevant dance and an absurd fashion show, this group is a breath of fresh ‘something’ that you probably weren’t even aware you needed. (Trust me you do!) This is just the Blues, Swing, and R&B delivered adroitly, deliberately, joyously, with a true love of the genre, and as unpretentiously as it could be done, with as much fun as a person, as a fan, could stand. The whole CD was recorded in one day @ Studio 350 and engineered by William Driscoll – produced by band leader and founder, Robert Cowan – all pointing to a professional and artistic proficiency, with nothing lost in the work. The CD was recorded with a ‘Live’ feel, that gives you an honest expectation as to what you can expect when you hear them perform live – a rare thing these days, with all the digital monkeyshines that are available.
I had the chance to see and hear these talented folks at their first CD release party and was just entranced, while I was movin’ to the groovin’. Here was music I grew up with and got to hear with fresh ears. Looking at the younger faces in the audience, (that would be most everyone in the room), I could see the delighted light of discovery, and the enthusiasm for this ongoing-ly relevant musical style. There are many bands rehashing and miming R&B and big city Blues tunes. But it is so often done with a softening and ignorance at the core at of what makes the genre what it is. This is a truly American music; this is musically telling us about what doesn’t work between a man and a woman, this is telling us how tough life is, this is getting up and getting through it and finding some solace where you can – and the voice that sings it knows it, and the players playing it have got to get us to know that they know it – so that we, the listeners, really know it. little monsters know it and they sure-nuff get it across to the audience that they are going to know it too.
One of the things that tickled me in the performance was listening to the two unique styles of little monster’s two lead guitar players and male lead singers. Phil Diiorio has a seventies blues rock feel to his riffs and belts out some rockin’ vocals – Steve Miller’s ‘Behind the Barn’. John January has a fine southern blues hand and a cool slide technique, as well as some cool/smooth lead vocals. like on the rocked up “Mojo Hand’. by Lightnin’ Hopkin’s
Annette Magee and Kekey Buche – are sensational and, for me, give the Little Monsters just that right, and real, vocal touch, lead and back up. Kekey’s version of Ann Peeble’s ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ is a barnburner and a highlight of the CD. Annette Magee’s take on BB King’s ‘Everyday I Have The Blues’ is a delightful surprise and reminiscent of, and honors, the past’s great women blues singers.
The rock solid bottom, laying the foundation as well as it could be done, is Jodie Hill’s deft fingers Bose bouncing some amazing licks on Bass, and the clean and tight-beat keeper, skins player, Ric Lee.
The group finished like a ribbon on a birthday present, Sax man, Chuck Arcilla has those hot chops that make the heart pound a bit harder.
The group was formed and is led by a harmonica and music maven, Robert Cowan, who bends them notes clean and always spot on, whether it’s an inspired riff, or wonderfully constructed horn lines, and always being just where he should be in the arrangement.
The nine cuts cover it all, from the blues ‘Behind The Barn’ – the Staple Singers Gospel/Soul classic re-done ‘I’ll Take You There’, to War’s rockin’ ‘Slippin’ Into Darkness.’
little monsters gets it – so will you!
Here is who’s singing:
Behind the Barn Phil Di iorio lead vocal
Everyday I Have the Blues Annette “da bomb” McGee lead vocal
Mojo Hand John January lead vocal
I Can’t Stand the Rain Kekey Buche’ lead vocal
Come Home In My Kitchen John January lead vocal
I’ll Take You There Kekey Buche’ & Annette McGee Duet
It Takes Time John January lead vocal
She’s Dynamite Phil Diiorio lead vocal
Slippin’ Into Darkness John January lead vocal
I’ll leave you with this quote from their CD:
“little monsters – is a planned convergence of specific musical histories and backgrounds – these specific choices culminate in delivering it’s unique ‘monsterized’ sound and style. We hope to explore everything from ‘field holla’ to ‘Big band Swing’ with our ‘little’ touch.”
Copyright © 2011 Ken Lehnig and SanDiegoAcoustic.com All Rights Reserved
All songs mentioned are copyrighted © by the original songwriters and covered by ‘little monsters‘