Brand new band from our own backyard brings us 9 impeccable pop songs. Their debut album, "Here Comes The Monolith" sounds more like the work of a seasoned rock mainstay than a rookie's first time at bat. The Monolith successfully harken the sounds of Cheap Trick, Beatles, E.L.O., Big Star and more recently, The New Pornographers. The latter probably most noticably distinguished by the silky vocal harmonies present in every song. Superbly crafted pop arrangements with heart-snagging hooks, bridges & choruses filled with horn sections and strings are merely the icing on the cake. The cherry on the top is the gorgeous production that is so often sadly lacking from debut releases. Highly recommended!
- Aquarius Records
The Monolith created one of the catchiest indie-pop records to come out of San Francisco in 2004, Here Comes the Monolith... The record covers a grand range of tempos, styles, and emotions. On songs like the opener, "43," the Monolith is all upbeat '70s rock. Elsewhere, as on "Heart Like a Diamond," the band spruces up Sgt. Peppers ' '60s psychedelia with a dash of Elton John's lounge tinkling. And on "Never Mind What You Heard," the Monolith pays homage to Simon & Garfunkel's introspective folk. Regardless of the style employed, these musicians always seem to find the perfect melody and arrangement. It's no surprise that everybody loves them.
- SF Weekly
Drawing on the Beatles, the Rentals, and Blondie, San Francisco's the Monolith are more than just some easily digested underground pop group. Synth purveyor Dahlia Gallin Ramirez gives the band the same kind of vocal power that Neko Case lends to the New Pornographers during her turns at the mic, with tunes like the set opener "43" and the irresistibly upbeat "Dandelion Storm." But the group's other vocalist, guitarist Bill Rousseau, is caught by the same new wave bug on the hook-drenched "10 X Infinity." Still, other influences diversify the album, keeping these nine tracks from ever feeling redundant as Rousseau contributes the fabulous, Lennon-esque "Ruby" and the lilting, tech-trickled "Alpha," the latter one of so many songs here that find his pipes blending effortlessly with Ramirez's. By the time the disc wraps with the adventurous "Trilogy" — which glues three tunes into one — it becomes apparent just how well conceived Here Comes the Monolith actually is. With the advent of this indie pop troop, enthusiasts of the style have one more reason to be cheerful. Rating = ****
- All Music Guide
Remember how you felt the first time you heard the Cars' "Just What I Needed"? Neither do I, but I bet it was a lot like discovering the Monolith. Bill Rousseau, Dahlia Ramirez, and Rogge write songs populated with loners and not-so-tough dreamers who look for unminable diamonds, take some punches, never forget to have fun, wish things were different, and remain guardedly optimistic. They can't help it. After spending months locked away with a two-inch 24-track tape deck, they've returned with their debut, Here Comes the Monolith, unofficially out now and to be released on Fortune Records in February. The album is a whole meal of thick, expansive pop that ends with "Trilogy," a track combining acoustic guitar, horns, drums, and a last exhale into three-step Moog.
- San Francisco Bay Guardian
If time travel were possible and John Lennon and Ric Ocasek ever decided to start a band together, it would probably sound something like San Fransisco trio The Monolith. On what is the best album I've heard this year, Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Ramirez's boy/girl vocals and Beatles-esque melodies tell tales of lost love and forgotten loners that are backed by infectious keyboard riffs played by a guy named Rogge. "Ruby" is the album's standout track, a pyschedelic masterpiece sounding as if it was written by Lennon himself. "10X Infinity" will make you fall in love with love, while closing track "Trilogy" is a throwback to '60s rock radio, starting off with folk harmonies before drifting into a Who-style assault of guitar and horns. A clever and original album, Here Comes The Monolith's sunny power pop is a perfect cure to the term paper blues.
- Jon Symons, University of Winnipeg
Let's talk about pop music. Light, airy, falling in love with that girl Michelle kind of pop music. The pop music that Elliot Smith, Ric Ocasek and Big Star could produce on a whim. Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Ramirez of San Francisco trio the Monolith remind me of said pop. Their boy/girl vocals backed by the cool keyboard of a guy called Rogge, is like light sunshine on your forehead while making out in the middle of a field. If you are happy or falling in love than their songs such as ‘10X Infinity', ‘43' and ‘Ruby' will have you feeling like you are in a movie- they're still pretty cool even if you ain't in love.
The best pop falls strangely somewhere between sheer joy and the melancholic and the strings on ‘Black Box Recorder' add a lil darkness amongst all the loving. Elsewhere ‘Trilogy' starts off with an acoustic guitar and sounds like it could have come off one of Elliot Smith's earlier records, before breaking into a bombastic rocker with horns and ‘lean way back while playing' guitar. Get this and fall in love today.
- Tim Scott, screamingbloodymess.com
Thanks to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the word "monolith" brings to mind something immense, dark and foreboding. But that may all change now that I've heard the light airy pop from this three-piece San Francisco band. Bill Rousseau, Dahlia Ramirez and Rogge have put together a debut full of '60's inspired tunes overflowing with sweet boy/girl harmonies, subtle (and at times raucous) horns, and the requisite synth. Tracks like "43", "Ruby" and "Dandelion Storm" can stand alongside either the earlier works of Beulah and the Apples in Stereo and not feel a bit out of place. Mixing some straight forward lyrics ("I like you ten times infinity") with more offbeat tales ("You weren't born of this earth, but from a toy"), the band keeps you on your toes while tapping them.
- Bob Canning, Under the Radar
Arrangement and approach is (almost) everything when it comes to making smart, stylish and intoxicating pop psychedelia, and that's just what The Monolith does with their full-length debut. This little 3-piece band has crafted 9 sugar coated jams (with the 9th song being a “Trilogy” broken into 3 parts) that show an amazing sense of memorable hooks and provide longevity to a market plagued with short-term musical vision. The Monolith's debut could be proudly played in 15 years' time, and there's something to be said about that. “43” opens the album with a very accessible modern rock tone, yet hints that this is more sophisticated than your average (insert your favorite mod-rock band here) ever dreamt of being. This album is kind of like the essence of college pop. It's educated, calculated, and irresistibly fun. Here Comes The Monolith comes across as a uniquely triumphant ode to the early 70's, in spirit, instrumentation and vocal delivery. I'm usually not a fan of the guy/girl vocal tradeoffs, but in this case (and in the case of Absinthe Blind) it is a perfect and infallible combination. The richness of the record enhances the throwback to another era of music, but much to The Monolith's credit, they refuse to park their car and hang out there. The dynamic hooks in “10 X Infinity” bring to mind a spunky Morella's Forest, as the band cashes in on perfect melody and some nicely placed guitar reverb. A slight twangy feeling laces the album in the vein of Mojave 3, only considerably more subtle. “Impossible You” showcases intimate vocals with intricate acoustic guitar work, while “Alpha” is a light pop rock number that incorporates a wacky synth line with a beat that's slightly dancehouse-esque. The grand finale, “Trilogy”, starts off as a very Elliott Smith influenced ‘Never Mind What You Heard', and transitions from introspective to the flat out rock n roll vibe of ‘A Foreign Exchange'. The album ends with ‘Once You've Been To Paris', a darker, slowburn, reminiscing song that leaves you hanging on until the end, and never seems to give you the ride that it seemed to promise. This is as about accomplished as records come and borderlines on being essential. Thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
San Francisco's pop rock trio, The Monolith, shines like the sun on their debut album, "Here Comes The Monolith." From the fuzzed-out riff of "43" to the acoustic genius of the three-movement "Trilogy," The Monolith deliver energetic, hook-laden chunks of Californian happiness. The vocal duties are shared on most tracks, but it is Dahlia Ramirez's enchanting timbre that most enhances the mood of the record. The album was self-produced by The Monolith using a 2-inch-24-track tape deck purchased from indie-icon John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio. The production is top-notch; string passages mix with moog madness; synth sounds meld with grinding guitars. The result: a finely crafted debut album from an extremely talented band.
- Savannah College of Art & Design
If this band isn’t ready for you to love them, then I don’t know who is. Pop hooks and melodies come at you with such a frenzy that it’s almost too much to handle. The song "43" gets the motor running with a Cars keyboard riff and a Go-Go’s flair that tells you exactly where The Monolith are coming from. Meanwhile "Heart Like A Diamond" sounds like a long-lost George Harrison-penned Beatles tune. Male/female harmonies abound, giving the album a cute "What if Blondie and Rick Ocasek sang together?" vibe. Here Comes The Monolith indeed, but take in short doses ‘cause it’s way too sweet to digest all in one sitting.
- Chart Attack
Reminiscent of The Beatles and Elliot Smith, The Monolith is an indie-rock band with some typical indie-rock characteristics...and some not. Dreamy vocals permeate all nine tracks of HERE COMES THE MONOLITH, creating vocal harmonies that will stick in your head for a long time. But the bread and butter for The Monolith is their emphasis on straightforward pop melodies and hooks, while incorporating a wide variety of instruments (the repertoire consisting of acoustic guitars, electric piano, keyboard, cello, viola, violin, trumpet, flugelhorn, and trombone). All these instruments generate a full, flowing sound that leaves you with a relaxing, carefree feeling. Overall, this album is upbeat, imaginative, and of great sound quality.
- Skratch Magazine
Rather than feeling out the limits of pop's roughest edges, The Monolith -- comprised of Bill Rousseau, Dahlia Ramirez and Rogge -- chose to proudly embrace a sound that is unabashedly sunshine pop. But don't let that muddy the waters for you. These simple melodies and synthesized hooks never quite overwhelm the musical depth that keeps "Here Comes the Monolith," their second recording, from floating away.
The band cites The Beatles as one of the group's primary influences. If this sounds as ubiquitously vague as the definition of pop music, just think spacey, heavily Lennon-esque melodies, and you'll have a pretty good impression of what The Monolith has to offer.
The recording's nine tracks are catchy and could appeal to anyone. This, in large part, is thanks to the trio's two major musical strengths: the male-female harmonies of Rousseau and Ramirez, which are beautiful without feeling manipulative, and a simple guitar backbone that anchors songs that would otherwise be made light by synthesizer riffs and relentlessly upbeat melodies.
All these references to pop are not intended to evoke Hanson imagery. The Monolith alternate between the happy and the strangely melancholic to create a mood that is far from saccharine. "Here Comes the Monolith" floats from track to track with a smooth confidence, and the dreamlike effect of this flow should not fool the careful listener into thinking this band is simple.
To escape the trap of synthesizer reliance, The Monolith has employed the help of nine outside musicians who contribute influence as diverse as the violin and the flugelhorn. The first track, "43," digs into your head but you don't feel violated. The final track, the aptly titled "Trilogy," has a distinctive sound that employs trombones, trumpets and the vocal help of Alex Brose.
The result is an album that is diverse and pleasantly enveloping, while falling a little short of epic. There are musical layers in "Here Comes the Monolith" to interest even the most skeptical audiences.
- Andrew Shipley, Oregon Daily Emerald
Judging purely by the band name, you'd think The Monolith would go for a Gotham-y feel for their visual component. Oddly enough, though, they picked a bird motif. Here Comes The Monolith's sleeve is alive with chickadees, nuthatches and wrens. It turns out to have been a wise choice, as The Monolith's music is no more cold, dark or decayingly urban than a row of titmice on a telephone wire. Nor is it over-sugared (as you might expect from a band using such silky boy-girl harmonies). Here Comes... is one of those rare albums that conveys great emotional depth while keeping its chin up.
Not that utterly depressing music doesn't have its place -- but The Monolith's jaunty, occasionally bittersweet melodies are irresistible. "43" opens the record with a Cars-style duet of catchy synth lines and staccato guitar, but once Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Ramirez's pop-group smooth vocals come in, there's far more sweetness than swagger. Their singing is actually glossed-up enough to sound almost indifferent, like a Greek chorus narrating events they have nothing to do with. Their words are more evocative -- for instance, "They came first and somehow you always came last / Not like it's forever / Some things can make it all worth it" from the dreamily string-enhanced "Ruby". The music, though, is the element that brings out the most emotion, and that includes the often rather instrument-styled vocals. The impossibly golden horns and major/minor key harmonies in "Heart like a Diamond", the creative drumming and cinematic strings in "Ruby", an abruptly cut off guitar-crazed buildup right out of Abbey Road at the end of "Trilogy" -- these are the things that elicit more true sentimentality (in music geeks, anyway) than many an impassioned lyric.
Many people consider The Beatles sacred, and think that anyone who emulates them must be a hack. The Monolith could be accused of aspiring to Beatles-ripoff status, and much more noticeably so than many bands, but these guys actually do a decent job of incorporating the right elements (understated but sweet singing, great songwriting, certain chords and arrangements) while establishing their own unique sound.
- Sarah Zachrich, Splendid E-zine
The Monolith's music could be a guilty pleasure. In fact, it should be. But there's nothing to feel guilty about here, despite the indulgent, booming synthesizers and the big guitars bursting throughout. On its debut full-length, Here Comes the Monolith, the San Francisco act knifes and glides through synth-pop, power-pop, and prog-pop, turning bits of '80s new wave into soaring, futuristic rock 'n' roll. Catchy, sad, and relentless, these nine tunes announce the Monolith as one of this city's most exciting new bands.
Does the retro synth-pop formula sound familiar? Perhaps. But where other like-minded S.F. groups succeed in rocking hard or singing sunny, few do it all as confidently as this trio. Wailing keyboards fit into danceable grooves glistening with drum snaps and cymbal splashes. Horn and string lines join bleepy noises to create atmospheric intricacy, while alternately roaring riffs and acoustic strumming align with vocal harmonies that are sleek and thick and bright, as effortless and interwoven as those of Simon and Garfunkel.
Vocalists Dahla Ramirez and Bill Rousseau -- who double on synthesizer and guitar, respectively -- pen puzzling, sorrowful stories for and about those stung by love. "She thinks of me as temporary/ She's not far from wrong/ Can't think of her as mine forever," they sing on the fuzzy, brass-led "Heart Like a Diamond." Yet the pair, who co-write the songs with bassist Rogge (yes, just Rogge), still retain their sense of the absurd, packing humor into their misfortunes: "Saw you crawling back home with your heart in tow/ Lower on the totem pole and your bags on my porch/ The details were sketchy just like the messenger/ It's a long way from Baltimore to New Siam," goes the spacey "Alpha." The trio downplays these dejection portraits with swirling melodies and a gentle backbeat. On the heaping standout "10 X Infinity," the musicians reveal a sharp longing for courage -- both to talk to a love interest and to make out with audience members -- amidst huge, Cars-like guitar riffs. Monolithic indeed.
- Benjamin Friedland, SF Weekly
Monolith's tandem vocal harmonies of Dahlia Ramirez and Bill Rousseau have a sweet, gauzy Summer of Love glaze, while their music combines an optimistic lushness, achieved by combining tinny synthesizer lines that sound lifted from an early Devo album, an insidious melodic sense absorbed from countless listens to psychedelic-period Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra, and as icing on the cake, some punchy Who/Cheap Trick-styled power chords.
- East Bay Express
Back To School:
The members of the Monolith probably didn't date a lot in high school, but were rather the ones sitting in the back of the classroom, pining for the beautiful loner that everyone else overlooked. Although they may not have gotten the girl, they channeled such yearnings into pretty lyrics. Their ingenuous songs sound like the love letters teenagers write before ever actually having their hearts broken, using words like “eternity” and “forever” without any trace of insincerity. Yet the world of the Monolith is more than just a Cameron Crowe flick; their rock spirit keeps the lyrics from sounding naïve, transforming their album into a deliberate statement against cynicism--with moogs.
Backed by a guest drummer, horn players, and a string trio, the Monolith's songs nearly burst with far-reaching melodies and orchestrations. The San Francisco threesome, which includes Bill Rousseau, Dahlia Ramirez, and Rogge, had dabbled in other musical projects before meeting on the Internet and forming in 2001. Although the individual vocals occasionally sound papery thin, the boy/girl sing-a-long harmonies are warm and sincere. “Heart Like A Diamond” sounds like Apples in Stereo with their keyboards, trumpets, and flugelhorns. “Heart of a diamond / Soul of a coalmine … She shines,” sings Rousseau admiringly. The sweetness remains throughout the album, and most of the lyrics read as though they were written in a yearbook-style message to a crush: “You're so smart / You frighten me with your charm / It's plain to see I like you / 10 x infinity.” The songs are earnest and irony-free, but delivered with the conviction of kids who listened to a lot of “Sgt Pepper.” “Ruby,” in particular, combines psychedelia with a child-like sensibility. “You put your trust in all the rich kids' ruby tears,” they sing over soaring strings, “Now you're tossed on a sea of broken glass.” In "Alpha" and "Black Box Recorder," the strings and flugelhorns are dropped in favor of synthesizers (the latter is an audio tour through the recording process that serves as a digression from potential sentimental-theme overload).
But at times the Monolith is a little too cuddly for their own good. “Impossible You” plays out like a lullaby, from the soft, sweet cooing to the imagery of dancers, curly hair, and clouds. Lyrics like “And when they aren't looking / You're coughing up pearls” borders on over-the-top preciousness, without any of the elaborate arrangements of the other tracks to give the song some needed heft. Yet when brought back down to earth, the Monolith are adept at crafting personal songs about the dramatic highs and lows of being smitten. With situations so simple and universal, it's difficult not to yearn for the object of their affection. "Once You've Been To Paris," part of a three-movement throwback to folk harmonies that eases into guitar metal, is an ode to a dream girl who moves away, leaving behind a trail of broken hearts. “She gave the impression that she could touch / Every soul in the classroom,” Ramirez sings, backed by electric guitars and rattling drums. This final track embodies the starry-eyed spirit of the band in its description of childhood love and loss. The results are weirdly eclectic, but may very well inspire you to approach that aloof beauty at your next reunion. Grade: B+
- Ginny Yang, SPIN Magazine
San Francisco's The Monolith have a definite '60s sound to their music, without losing a modern edge. Described by the SF Guardian as "time-capsule rock dug up by a spacy Nord synthesizer", they mix synths, rock guitars, trumpets and strings, produced in an eclectic yet accessible way — some of their latest batch of songs were recorded and mixed at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio.
- Barsuk Records
There's something overwhelmingly warming about girl/boy vocals on indie pop records that just turns my heart to jelly. From Rilo Kiley's undeniably cute rendition of the Velvet Underground's After Hours , through to Cranebuilders' delightful Just Idleness and Ze Malibu Kids' I won't Forget You , the juxtaposition of such contrasting tones (ooh, isn't that just so profound…it deserves a few stars) is candy to my ears. So when I was lead to the sounds of The Monolith, I was certainly in for a treat.
With Here Comes The Monolith , the band's debut LP self-released over the summer, this San Francisco trio have created a record that you feel you've owned all your life, yet with every listen there's a different twist, a melody you'd previously not deciphered, or a lyric that all of a sudden jumps out at you. It's one of those records where when you first put it in your CD player it just rambles through its duration pretty inconspicuously, yet by the end of the week you suddenly realise that it's never left your CD player and you've listened to nothing else for the past seven days. So what is their secret?
Well, there are certainly sixties sensibilities to The Monolith's distinct take on pop. However, don't automatically pigeonhole them as a retro combo because that's simply not the case. This is pop music for the modern age. In a ilk similar to that of Beulah and Apples In Stereo, The Monolith play around with infectious keyboard refrains and bold guitars (as well as a few lighter moments) whilst giving each song a sprinkling of luscious harmonies…and not forgetting those boy/girl vocals. With nine beautifully crafted and arranged pop songs (and ending with a pop “trilogy” that, although sounds a little tedious, actually works), 'Here Comes...' is a record you just want to tear the wrapping off as quickly as possible to gobble up all of its treats. It's well worth it and the aftertaste is to die for!
- Ryan Oxley, Audiojunkies.net (U.K.)
Come to think of it, pop is pretty monolithic. OK, actually, “pop” has been used to describe so much diverse music that it's virtually meaningless, but I'm talking here about something specific: pop in its “purest” form, like the musical equivalent of sunshine (and, as Lesley Gore adds, lollipops and rainbows) or one of those Miyazake movies where nothing remotely bad ever happens. I would date its inception back to the late '50s and early '60s, the milieu of Brill-building songwriters such as Neil Sedaka and Phil Spector–produced girl groups like the Crystals. Then came its refinement (and arguable perfection) later in the decade by masters like Brian Wilson and the Zombies; the work of janglers and power-popsters in the '70s and '80s (Big Star » the Raspberries » Cheap Trick » the Knack » Squeeze » Jellyfish, or something); and a re-flowering in the mid-'90s with groups like the Beulah, Lilys, and the Apples in Stereo. Through it all, this kind of pop has maintained a distinct set of signifiers and a characteristic attitude — optimism, essentially. Curiously, since the post-Nirvana fallout of “tortured” or “sensitive” guitar guys, and the prevalent beat-basedness of chartable happy music, pop like this hasn't been all that popular, or at least best-selling, since the late '80s or so — but that's another story.
Here come the Monolith, a trio (with friends) from sunny San Francisco, keying in squarely. Any of the artists mentioned above would serve as an appropriate reference point for their debut CD, which, if nothing else, provides a magnanimous opportunity to play spot-the-influence (hey, dig that “And Your Bird Can Sing” guitar work on “Dandelion Storm”). Not that they're simply copyists. The boy-girl vocals, chiming chorus harmonies and unabashed melodicism that permeate the album may be oft-overplayed genre tropes, but this band wields them with a remarkable authority and judiciousness.
Still, despite considerable internal experimentation and range, it's nigh impossible to listen to “Here Comes” on its own terms, without thinking of its forebears. “Ruby,” the disc's most psychedelic moment, is not, in fact, a cover of the like-named Apples' classic, but it stops just short. “Never Mind What You Heard” uncannily emulates Elliott Smith. “10 x Infinity,” the indelibly hooky better-be single which is sine qua non for any self-respecting pop record, finds the group straying closest to Cars/Romantics crunchy New Wave territory. I doubt the Monolith would resent this characterization much — originality clearly isn't their priority, and there's nothing wrong with that — but it makes them a difficult band to assess, apart from their undeniable competence.
What should one want, in 2004, from canonically minded purveyors of Melody, Harmony and Rhythm? Perhaps we can consider this in strictly utilitarian terms: Just like make-no-amends dance music, which is only worth as much as its ability to get you on the floor, capital-p pop has a pretty specific purpose, and it's not hard to quantify its effectiveness. Considering the tenacity with which some of these tunes have been coursing through my head this week, there's really no question: The stuff works.
- Ross Hoffman, The Pheonix (Swarthmore College)
Upon first listen, it might be easy to dismiss The Monolith as just another underground pop band from San Francisco. But that would be missing the point because...these folks simply have much better songs than most other pop bands. Though explaining this may be a difficult task, the important thing to remember is that Dahlia Gallin Ramirez, Rogge, and Bill Rousseau write and play some superbly effective modern pop without unnecessary frills. The band's tunes are subtle...slyly sneaking into the subconsciousness of the listener over time. While the music has a strangely familiar overall sound...it is difficult to come up with comparisons and influences. To put it simply...Here Comes The Monolith is a heavenly collection. The compositions transcend the genre of pop...instead possessing an intriguing classic quality that makes them transcend time and space. Wonderfully understated vocals glide by while perfectly suited arrangements support them. Words cannot describe the sheer brilliance of tunes like "Ruby"...easily one of the best tunes of 2003. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)
The Monolith Is Back, And It's Bigger Than Ever
The word “monolith” conjures images of something large, imposing and anchored. The irony being that the band the Monolith is elusive, disappearing for months at a time then showing up to rock the house. The word also brings to mind heaviness and plodding, but the Monolith's music is light and airy, full of beautiful harmonies, infectious melodies with keyboards and electric pianos. However, the Monolith is a subtly perfect name for this group. By building solid, strong, pop songs that call on such classic influences as the Beatles and Squeeze, and employing time tested successful strategies like hook-filled choruses, winning harmonieswith solid musicianship, they are ensuring they will be around a long time. And no, they aren't named after the T. Rex song.
The Monolith is Bill Rosseau, Rogge, and Dahlia Gallin Ramirez. Once an all-male four-piece, Rosseau was looking for someone to sing harmonies when he stumbled upon an ad placed by Dahlia. He was intrigued by her influences, “She listed Beck's Mutations and Love (the band), both of which, I was mildly obsessed with at the time. She gave me a tape with several songs she had recorded on a 4-track, including a brilliant, harmony laden, Velvet Underground inspired cover of “I Wanna Be Sedated.” I was sold.”
That connection carries over to this day, with Rosseau and Dahlia's voices creating some of the best gender mixed harmonies around. The Monolith has hit with the Curse Of The Rhythm Section. They lost their original drummer due to his dislike of San Francisco, not the band. “We ‘ve flown him in from Portland to record and play some shows.” Currently Alex Decarville (Lessick) is filling in on drums. They do “bass by committee.”
The band's not intentionally elusive. “We've been busy, but not in a public way,” explains Rosseau. “Dahlia got married, I went on tour with John Vanderslice, and then played guitar on some songs that will be on Vanderslice's new album Pale Horse due out next year. Rogge went sailing in Turkey.” While Rosseau was on tour Rogge was in a car accident and “spent his settlement on studio gear and sheet rock.” The band purchased the 2” 24-track from Tiny Telephone, John Vanderslice's recording studio. During the Fall and Winter they (“mostly Rogge” admits Rosseau) built a recording studio on the outskirts of San Francisco. “We're probably one of the few bands who thought it was necessary to build a studio to record an album.”
That album is the Monolith's highly anticipated full length debut Here Comes the Monolith , containing seven straightforward pop songs and a neat little three mini-song sampler. What makes the songs distinctive are wonderful lyrics, such as “Heart like a diamond / soul of a coal mine... caught in this trap / but she can still laugh at all the fanfare and the lies... she thinks of me / as temporary...” from “Heart Like A Diamond,” a Beatle-ish number with trumpet and fugelhorn contributed by brassmeister Morty Okin. And then there's Rosseau and Ramirez's harmonies, for which there is no analog. The other song on Here Comes..., “Black Box Recorder,” is a departure. It's a mellow song with twangy guitar and instrumental breaks with a cello, viola and violin. Rosseau lowers his register a bit and languidly sings “crossedthe border/via South Dakota/ saw my father / and we drew up the plans / devised a system / of flawless intentions / but it diappeared on route to its destination.”
Rosseau and Ramirez wrote the bulk of the songs on the debut release. “We mostly write separately but we bounce ideas off each other,” Rosseau explains. “Rogge writes too and I have a feeling we'll be doing more of his stuff soon. He's great at adding the important parts to songs. He writes great melodies and also arranged a lot of strings and horns we've used in our recordings.” The band's plans? Shockingly, to play out more in support of their album. Hopefully they will become a monolith in the San Francisco music scene, in the more literal sense of the word.
- Sherry Sly, West Coast Performer Magazine
The Monolith are San Francisco's biggest tease, absent for months but reemerging tonight with time-capsule rock dug up by a spacey Nord synthesizer. Just when you think you have them pegged, a power guitar solo, a lazy trumpet, or Kevin Byers's caveman drum crash breaks through Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Gallin's main-course harmonies. Stumbling across the Monolith is like discovering a hidden track on a well-loved '60s comp, marveling that the names Rogge (keyboards) and Russ Violet (bass) are too strange and perfect to be real, then falling for the bleeding, beating, rock and roll heart beneath their disarming pop skin.
- San Francisco Bay Guardian