While every emerging indie band has or should have a detailed bio about where they and their musical intentions come from, few have a back story as impactful and provocative as the Athens, GA powerhouse duo Monsoon and their seductive yet in our face, emotionally searing second album Ghost Party.
Catching wind of their initial, too quick success, their drift away from each other, and their ultimate reconciliation is the only way to fully understand the meaning of singer/songwriter Sienna Chandler’s angry, haunting, visceral and heartbreaking lyrics – and grasp why every time she gets dreamy, quirky and indie-pop charming on us, she blasts us with walls of raging fuzzy guitars over her partner, Joey Kegel’s fast and hard booming drums. In a nutshell, the title track from their 2015 debut album Ride A’Rolla caught on quickly and appeared in a regional Toyota commercial that ran after the Super Bowl halftime show. The duo was invited to participate in the world’s first “36o multi-cam music video” launched by Google.
With too many outside forces pulling them in different professional directions, the two didn’t formally break up, but drifted apart. While technically they were on separate paths for only two years, the grief, anxiety and fear of maybe never seeing Kegel again overwhelmed Chandler. Her cathartic songwriting breakthrough happened when she pretended that they were still in a band together. What she intended as device to trick her mind became led to a cathartic outpouring of misery and incisive, insightful, off-kilter poetry to help her process her pain and separation anxiety.
Though her vocals can be quirky and charming on the more whimsical moments between firestorms, the real crazy sonic magic and emotional blasting happens when Chandler wraps her passionate, mind bending fire around our piqued curiosity on hypnotic mood swinging rage storms like “Walking Legs” (which mentions consuming spirits and minds turning to madness), “Don’t Move” (includes a retro mention of “a Polaroid just to make you stay the same”), and the trippy, often cacophonous title track which reminds about the lasting effects of broken bones and broken hearts.
Blissfully elsewhere, we get some military drumming, red stained hands and lots of observed sins on “O Brother” and a declaration that Chandler “woulda took a bullet for you” on the atmosphere laden acoustic interlude “Dark Colossus.” There’s a lot of emotional baggage to unpack as you listen to Monsoon’s long overdue, pandemic delayed reunion. Hopefully you won’t be too emotionally exhausted when they start working again from a place of resolution and the joyful spirit of long term collaboration.