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To Behold

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Album Review

The second album from this unusual blues-rock trio finds the band continuing to explore the borderlands between swamp boogie, funk, R&B, country, Delta blues, and Chicago blues, with consistently fruitful results. Operating without a bass player (vocalist Steve Marriner plays guitar, keyboards, and harmonica, while Tony D plays lead guitar and Matt Sobb plays drums), MonkeyJunk nevertheless generate a dark and thoroughly grounded groove — or perhaps one should say "grooves." "Right Now" is Texas-style funky blues, heavy on the wah-wah pedal; "Running in the Rain" is full-tilt barrelhouse blues with a strong R&B undertow; "With These Hands" is a lovely example of Muscle Shoals-style soul music, and a song that Dan Penn would have been proud to write; but perhaps best of all is the group's arrangement of the Hank Williams classic "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)," which takes that vintage honky tonker and turns it into a snarling, harp-driven Delta blues workout complete with greasy slide guitar and a vibe that evokes a more heavyweight Tom Waits. Throughout the album it's hard to say whether Marriner's singing or Tony D's stinging lead guitar is the true anchor of MonkeyJunk's sound, but either one would be sufficient. The band is only a few years old, but sounds as if it has been aging and ripening its sound for decades.

Biography

Formed: 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Canadian swamp blues and roots rock band MonkeyJunk formed in 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario. Out of the gate, they boasted a slightly unusual set-up with vocalist and harmonica player Steve Marriner manning the baritone guitar, rather than the more typical bass. Along with lead guitarist Tony D and drummer Matt Sobb, the trio covers an array of roots-oriented styles with their gritty and muscular take on blues forming the heart of their sound. Having already established themselves as a touring act, they...
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To Behold, MonkeyJunk
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