I stumbled upon Monarch when I discovered their record label: Northern Records. I remember trying to find out whatever happened to the Christian shoegaze band The Prayer Chain and figuring out that some of the guys from that band formed noise-pop band The Lassie Foundation and started their own label to release their stuff. They had some other really cool bands on their roster (most notably All Things Bright and Beautiful). On their old homepage, the background music really struck me as amazing. Eventually, the label released the disc that the background music came from and it was Monarch.
Monarch released their debut disc, “The Grandeur That Was Rome”, in early 2004 and I was wildly impressed. Their music was great and the vocals of Brennan Strawn were incredible. His range and passion really sold the band. They were a mix of The Album Leaf, Eluvium, and maybe Sigur Ros or Jeff Buckley. Just really, really good. I played that disc a lot in 2004.
In 2005, however, Monarch announced that they were splitting up. I was very disappointed by that news. Then, in 2006, Northern announced that Monarch would continue as the solo project of Brennan Strawn. Since then, Northern has been advertising the new album from Monarch entitled “Lowly”, but has still not released the disc. I’m eargerly waiting to hear if Brennan can still produce the immense sound that the full band produced on their debut. But I feel that as long as Brennan’s voice is in the mix, I know I’m going to like the album.
Just last month, Brennan announced via the Monarch MySpace page that he had placed a number of Monarch early demos and b-sides from the “Grandeur Sessions” on a website called Media Creature. Also streaming there is the entire “Grandeur” album and an instrumental version of the album (which is quite good even without the vocals). Click on “Indie Pop” and search for Monarch. There are some real winners among the b-sides that could have easily been any other band’s a-sides. Particularly the track I’m posting here called “Mermaids”. I’m also posting my favorite track from “Grandeur” called “Turn Around”. I hope you enjoy the tracks. And be looking for “Lowly” to be released (hopefully) before the end of the year.
Monarch – Mermaids (b-side)
Monarch – Turn Around (from The Grandeur That Was Rome)