Monroe Mustang De Avonden 091099 (JagJaguwar)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Sept. 8, 2000
De Avonden 091099 (JagJaguwar)It's bad enough these five local shoegazers rarely play "The Live Music Capital of the World." With their latest release recorded live-to-DAT at Dutch Public Radio's De Avonden studios last year (10/09/99), they add insult to injury by traveling all the way to the Netherlands to make their sweetest sounds yet. Longer than last year's stylistic grab-bag EP The Elephant Sound, yet shorter than their sonorous full-length debut, 1998's Plain Sweeping Themes for the Unprepared, the 33-minute, seven-song De Avonden twinkles with the spontaneous studio warmth often alchemized live on the radio. From the elegiac opener "Evening" through to the hidden bonus track -- Pete Townshend's "Christmas" (from Tommy) -- Monroe Mustang rides the sweet spot: an organ. Shimmering acoustic guitars, sleepy vox, and shiny harmonies melt together in a buttery mix throughout which runs a river of unifying keyboards that helps the album run the gamut from pre-DSOTM Pink Floyd to post-Lambchop Vic Chesnutt. Since the band features five singer-songwriter-composers (four of whom work for the Chronicle) all contributing their own songs and ideas, cohesion is a tricky line to stay on the right side of, but here, all lines are erased in favor of a warm, fuzzy whole. Now if only we didn't have to travel to another continent to see them live...