Monk Grass Part 1: A Review of Mt. Thelonious's "In The Pines"
After reviewing Mt. Thelonious's new video for "In The Pines", I walked away with only one word in mind: experience.
With no shortage of originalities, self proclaimed "chamber folk" band Mt. Thelonious merges many worlds to craft their artistic pallet. Their songs writhe in a progressive and often intricate fashion, and their sound melds the rhythmic sensibilities of jazz and rock with folk instrumentation and pop hooks. Featuring the alt-rocker vocal aesthetics of Ian Lubar with lush fiddle and backup vocal stylings of Alyssa Avery and the virtuosic tour-de-force bass counterpoint of Mark Wallace, the group wields a brilliant unpredictability yet uncanny familiarity helping their music to toe the line of creative accessibility (well chronicled in their recent video release).
"In The Pines" (credited to Led Belly), is a well known tune that chronicles the difficult life of the impoverished black American south. Since its appropriation into the bluegrass, blues, and rock cannon (most famously by grunge band Nirvana), it's words and content carry considerable new weight in a modern context, making it ripe for resetting. Mt. Thelonious offers us nothing less than a chilling interpretation.
Set in what appears to be the wild American west, a young woman is escorted to her demise: a lone chair and noose hung upon a stately pine aching quietly in the dead of winter. Only later does this story unfold, and accusations of witchcraft sentence her to death. This contemporary homage to the "Spaghetti Western" bares all the fruit of a perfect artistic merger: While the videography and scenery is simply stunning and the music incredibly well produced and dramatically structured, the two pieces marry so perfectly that we find ourselves in the throws of the interpersonal connection between our characters, a husband escorting his love to the grave and a wife whose eminent death comes at the hand of her trusted counterpart. The matter-of-fact lyricism and sparse setting give the sense of dragging time until finally our characters meet their destination and begin to reflect on the magnitude of their situation (at which point the band is augmented by more strings to support Lubar's soaring vocals), leaving the viewer with a dynamic experience that challenges the conventions of stylistic and emotive interpretation.
Definitely worth your time to check out this band and further support this creative team.
Mt. Thelonious is:
Ian Lubar- Guitar/Vocals
Alyssa Avery- Violin/Vocals
Mark Wallace- Bass
Video by Five Owls Production
Randy Hall - Director/DP/Editor
Keith Eakins- VFx
Shot in Sullivan, Missouri