Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monster Island Plus "Del Otro Galaxia"

(We Ri Pro) (Guest Review by Gentleman John Battles) Monster Island Plus, a two man band, long before it was the hip thing to 
be, hailed, alternately from Denton and Dallas, Texas (with the occasional trip to Brussels). 
In the mid to late 80's, MI+ 
were part of a burgeoning music scene in Denton, which also included 
Snake Farm, Bliss, Charred, 
The Whirlygigs (for whom Monster Island drummer and singer Eddie Holland  also played), 
Professional Christ Imitators (a two man hardcore band that never seemed 
to have played out), The 
Hydrolators, and some guy called John Battles. It would be several years 
before anyone in Dallas 
picked up on this VERY DIY music community, one that would go on to usurp 
Dallas in local band power 
and even as a preferred stop for touring national acts. For original music Denton was largely limited 
to a former State Fair corn dog stand and a still intact ex-Pizza Hut, 
which served hot dogs and 
hamburgers, instead. Then, there were frequent house parties (more on 
that, later). Guitarist and 
singer Tim Pope joined then-exotic percussionist Holland in more 
toned-down affairs than what 
appears here, some 25 years later, for their first-ever studio release. 
The tempos and instrumentation 
go from one extreme to another, light and heavy like an Iron Butterfly (Pope used to look like he could 
have been a member of said band). There's a lot of humor, but, if you're 
not a fanboy or a former 
NTSU student, some of it MIGHT go over your head. Or just get stuck in 
your head and STAY there. 
They're joined by a full studio ensemble on most tracks, but since I 
don't do acid (and, I'm NOT 
saying they do, either), I'm having a really hard time reading the 
liners. Pope and Holland pull off 
some unique harmonies, and Pope lays down some cool coffeehouse acoustic 
and hard Garage/Psych 
electric guitar while Holland makes with both Latin percussion and big, bawdy Rock'n'Roll 
drums. All or mostly originals, barring a strong version of "2000 Man" 
by The Rolling Stones (I can't 
BELIEVE no one jumped on the chance to cover this when said year rolled 
around, especially with the 
prophetic line "Well, my wife still respects me, I've really misused her, I am having an affair with a 
random computer."), reworking the lyrics slightly, and throwing a verse 
to suit the year 2010, when 
this was recorded. It's just possible, too, that they recorded it in 
honor of the nearly-forgotten 
version KISS did in '79 (But the fact that the band members are dressed, 
quite convincingly, as Paul 
Stanley and Peter Criss, on the cover, didn’t influence my 
observation). The acoustic/electric tug of 
war reminds me of The Deviants' and Pink Fairies' first albums, while 
other songs, still take on a 
Hawkwind "Space Rock" quality. "Klaarg The Klingon" sounds like The 
Simpsons doing Star Trek, 
not a bad thing at all. The real standout track has got to be "The Leaning 
House," a staple in their set 
back in The 80s.  The Leaning House was this old house in Denton that 
sorta ...leaned. It's possible, 
somehow, that it's still standing (last I heard, it was). All the Punk 
Rock Art Student people seemed 
to live there, yet, it was hard to tell who actually lived there, and 
who was visiting. The Leaning 
House was host to many great parties, with local bands and visiting 
performers from as far away 
as...Dallas. These parties were often shut down or quieted down, anyway , by the cops, while the frat house next door carried on at three times the volume. But, Monster Island 
Plus could tell you more of 
it's legend than I can, here. They could also tell you more of the legend 
of special guest guitarist, 
Takashi O'Hashi, a megastar in Japan. So, while this group carries with
it a "Hey, your chocolate is in 
my peanut butter!/Hey! Your peanut butter's in my chocolate!" aesthetic, a collection of musical and personal explorations, gathered over more than half a lifetime, the end result makes perfect sense in this day and age. 

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