Music reviews: ‘Mon Frere’ is electroshock, jazz-tinged dance-pop with a punk rock attitude. And they only sing about monsters, serial murderesses and vampires who get shitfaced.
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Buy Blood, Sweat & Swords on Amazon
Music influences: Smashing Pumpkins; the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs; Bjork; The Gossip
Mon Frere is a band that doesn’t bother writing about cute boys and lovesick girls. Their cup of tea is singing about classic monsters – vampires, werewolves and orcs – and our normal, everyday psychopathic murderesses. Made up of Nouela Johnston (keyboards/vox), Kyle Swisher (gutiar) and Dustin McGhee (drummer), Mon Frere produces an angry, danceable sound that will slap you in the face no matter how many times you’ve heard it.
Their music has been described as “electroshock, jazz-tinged, dance-pop, with a punk rock attitude” and indeed it is. A rythmic groove is essential to their music, and is easily provided by guitarist Kyle’s choppy, energetic guitar riffs and David’s steady and strong drum beat. The two’s aggressive energy is peculiarly but perfectly contrasted by Nouela’s smooth and quirky keys, and her strong, fiery vocals. Overall, Mon Frere have a quirky but threatening sound, perfect for when you’re pissed off, need to dance, or both.
The trio stormed onto the Seattle music scene from the suburbs of Mountlake Terrace in Washington (USA). The band had formed in late 2003, but the members didn’t get serious about their music until they won a battle of the bands in 2004. The prize included a recording session, which led to the bands first official piece: the Real Vampires EP, out in 2005.
The Real Vampires EP was named after an enlightening discussion between the band members regarding the concept that “vampires don’t get shitfaced”, as opposed to the otherwise normal-looking vampires from the world of Buffy. The EP contains songs that showcase the band’s edgy style.
The next year, Mon Frere released their full-length album: Blood, Sweat & Swords. It begins with a bizarre little song called Y.M.M.W.D.S.B (an acronym for You Make Me Wanna Destroy Something Beautiful) and one is pulled in like a curious child in a candy shop, while Nouela’s mesmerizing voice keeps one from noticing the lyrics and their eerie stories. Soft and slow through some songs then loud and fierce in the next, the album constantly turns on you with sudden, harsh beatings. But, like a patient with Stockholm syndrome, you stand for the abuse you are put thorugh, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
As promising as this young band seemed and despite its quickly growing reputations, these were the only two pieces produced. Much to the dismay of old and new fans alike, the short-lived group announced their decision to disband in early 2007.