Reinvention in Transit

Essex (Ameriband Records)


By Kevin Gibson

A couple of years ago, a colleague told me about a friend whose band had just released a CD locally, and asked if I would consider reviewing it. Sure, I said, knowing that there are dozens - probably hundreds - of local bands doing exactly the same thing. But for local music, I'll always lend an ear.

What I found was that there really weren't any other bands doing exactly what that band, New World Buffet, was doing. Tom Cantrell and Mark Linquist made up that band, which offered up seven tunes that turned up a nose at seemingly every musical genre on the planet, while offering a wry tip of the hat to each. I was impressed.

Now comes Monorail, the new incarnation of the Cantrell and Linquist vision. Having added a rhythm section and put together a fairly intriguing live show, Monorail finds itself in territory similar to that inhabited by its predecessor. These eleven songs are at the very least interesting, flirting with a sound set forth many years ago by Television, but adding a little bit more pop sensibility than Tom Verlaine ever managed with Television's progressive sound.

Monorail compares itself to Pavement and Cheap Trick melded with "Pink Floyd/Eno-style atmospherics" with lyrical tendencies reaching into the Kinks and U2. Perhaps, but by the time one gets to track six, "Arcane," comparisons pretty much go out the window (and that's a good thing). If "Arcane" stands forth as representative of the band's median sound, then Monorail is an accessible tribute to many forms of intelligent rock innovation.

Subdued and dark (though never sinister), Monorail gives us intensely laid back mood numbers like "Valley of Green Lights" and "Feel Better" but also affords us melody ("It's Hard to Keep Things Clean") and easy-to-digest instrumental textures that actually are more complicated than they end up sounding ("Day Off"). Lyrically, Cantrell and Linquist continue on a path set forth by New World Buffet - occasionally abstract, but usually focusing on detailed character study.

I can't recommend this CD enough - to the right people. If background music is your pleasure, stick to radio. If high energy or loud guitars or spotlighted vocal performance are your thing, this might not be your gig. If your mind is open to any style of music, then Monorail is a train you should ride at least once.

Find out more about Monorail at