Review Summary: One Voice. One Monoculture.
The current state of affairs at Tooth and Nail Records is far from favorable; once the most prominent ‘christian’ record labels throughout the entire country, it seems that nearly every single one of their lynchpin artists are either leaving or slowly sliding into mediocrity. With this lack of production it seemed as though their best releases were left in the distant past. Enter Sainthood Reps out of Long Island, the alt rock/grunge band that was heralded to bring Tooth and Nail back from the brink of obscurity. Sadly Sainthood Reps didn’t last much longer than their contemporaries, as late last year we saw the inevitable split after releasing but a single album with the dying record label.
Despite tours with bands such as Brand New, mewithoutYou, La Dispute, Balance & Composure and O’Brother, Sainthood Reps has not really garnered the attention they deserve. Some of this may be attributed to the record label situation aforementioned, but it is more likely due to the fact that their debut album, Monoculture
, is a difficult album to digest on first listen. Monoculture is an album that doesn’t pretend to be anything it is not, as throughout the entire record one is treated to unbridled alternative rock, tinged with the grunge sound made ever so popular in the 90’s. Songs such as the title track or album closer Widow
best exemplify this sound, as they are both especially heavy and “sludgy”. While it is completely conceivable that many will avoid listening at the mere mentioning of “modern day” grunge, it should be stated that Sainthood Reps has that fleeting it factor
. If you’re not a fan of the grunge genre in and of itself fear not, as Sainthood reps manages to add their own distinctive twist to the outdated genre, all while succeeding in making the album feel as personal as it needs be.
It is fairly obvious where Sainthood Reps find their influences; Nearly every song could fit into a Nirvana or even a later day Brand New record without much turbulence. (An interesting fact: Guitarist Derrick Sherman was a touring member of Brand New for quite some time.) Upon my first listen to lead single DINGUS I often times found myself forgetting that it was indeed Francesco Montesanto, not Jesse Lacey, belting out Wait! Wait! Who do you think you are"
. But the vocals are not the only parallels between Sainthood Reps and Daisy-era Brand New. The instrumentation is similar as guitarists Derrick Sherman and Francesco Montesanto use a vast assortment of different pedals and effects to create some rather unique soundscapes. Standout track Hunter
could be considered a summation of this experimentation, despite the fact that a fairly common song structure is employed. As Hunter ends, it flows seamlessly into one of the more aggressive tracks on the album, No/Survival
. Implementing fuzz guitars this song clocks in at a mere 2 minutes and 14 seconds, but still manages to be a definite highlight.
Monoculture is an album that is almost the definition of a back-loaded album, as nearly all of my favorite tracks find themselves after the midway point. Actually the entirety of the last five tracks are near perfection. That’s not to say that the first five tracks are lacking in substance, it’s just that the back-half of the album manages to include every single highlight track and leave the listener wanting more. If one can succeed in getting past the interesting, yet admittedly tedious opening tracks, they will be pleased to hear the potential that Sainthood Reps is oozing with. Although Monoculture is an album that often times has a difficult time differentiating itself from its obvious influences, if it is given a proper and fair listen, it becomes obvious that we are being introduced to band that has nowhere to go but up.