Sensory Overload: Stucco Jones and Monolithic Cloud Parade

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Last Thursday's lineup at Ravari Room presented four bands I'd yet to see in concert, so I showed up around midnight knowing I would encounter some undiscovered sounds and trusting that at least some of them would be worth my time.

That proved true immediately as Obviouslies were banging out their closing number when I walked in. The latest endeavor from the prolific Nick Schuld (The Rackets) offered a shoegaze-influenced take on balls-out garage rock, with entrancing guy-girl vocals riding a wave of bombastic punk power. Looking forward to seeing a full set from this crew sometime.

The first band I got quality time with was Monolithic Cloud Parade. Since they appeared out of nowhere earlier this year, the indie-rock quintet has become best known in the local music press for its healthy Neutral Milk Hotel influence. And indeed they incorporate a lot about Jeff Mangum's beautiful, twisted vision, from the nasally vocals to the trumpet blasts to the wordless cries of "la di da" that end "Airplanes Full of Flames."

But listening to MCP from a table in the back of the room, I began to understand their sound extends beyond Mangum's shadow, a conclusion that the band's debut Children With Wolf Heads bears out.

Frontman Corey Fry draws just as heavily from the breathless bellowed rants of Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown singer Spencer Krug. And his band often tempers these off-kilter creative impulses with a straightforward slacker-pop approach borrowed from early-era Weezer.

The results are often entertaining but rarely evoke much of a reaction. That's less true on the record - "All the Things We Used to Be," for example, is a hazy guitar death march into the bowels of Hell - but on stage the group doesn't quite deliver. Monolithic Cloud Parade ends up feeling like an unfinished patchwork of Fry's favorite influences. They're positive influences, to be sure, and lots of bands have made amazing music without bringing new ideas into the fold. But you gotta play it like you own it.

That wasn't a problem for Stucco Jones.

I had been avoiding the duo for a while because they have the worst band name in Columbus. Their manager tells me it refers to a local graffiti artist from the '80s, but regardless of historical significance, the moniker makes me think of your stepfather's cover band murdering Q-FM's playlist.

Thankfully, these two come harder and stronger than that. Trading off on guitar and drum duties, they bang out blistering, no-frills garage rock. It's a fun frenzy, and though they're certainly not leading a revolution here, they know how to put on a show.

Besides the previously noted nomenclature complaints, my main gripe with these guys is their vocals. Can't blame a rock 'n' roller for letting 'er rip, but their singing has a grating nails-on-the-chalkboard effect that lends itself to heavier, more abrasive music, not the hip-swinging, radio-ready rock these two serve up so generously.

For more local music news and reviews, click to the Sensory Overload blog