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Sleep / Attack - Rare Monk
Buy Sleep / Attack


LABEL: Unsigned
FORMATS: Digital

Band Members

Dorian Aites: Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Violin
Forest Gallien: Bass, Keys
Isaac Thelin: Violin, Saxophone
Jake Martin: Guitar
Rick Buhr: Drums


Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the young turks of Rare Monk sound simultaneously like everything and nothing you've ever heard. While the obvious signposts are there to guide you (Modest Mouse, Phoenix), Rare Monk combine their love of late 90s alternative with a fevered pop intensity, before shooting the whole thing into outer space to see what comes back.

That psychedelic insanity can be traced back to their college roots, when the guys were the go-to band for drunken debauchery and sonic exploration. Having grown exponentially as a band since those early house party days, Rare Monk have teamed up with noted producer Skyler Norwood (Blind Pilot, Horsefeathers) for their first full-length Death By Proxy.

By turns their most ambitious and deceptively simple release to date, Death By Proxy is immediately accessible, while continually surprising upon each spin.

“Although we draw upon many genres for inspiration, we’ve been creating our own based on nothing other than “these are the songs we wrote cause they sound cool."

The giddy pop thrill of the title track and the funky, slow burn of “Underground” acts as the band's mission statements, and according to Dorian, summarizes what the band has been building towards since forming in 2009.

“Regardless of where our music falls on the spectrum, I think it’s pretty genuine. I think the important thing here is not to try and fit a compartmentalized soundscape, or be different from everyone else; the importance lies in doing what you are passionate about. Passion is genuine.”


“Holy. Shit. This is what I like to receive in my inbox – it has ups, downs, hooks-aplenty, and then suddenly: dance party into Sigur Ros prog breakdown.” - The Indie Machine

"There’s still some of that Isaac Brock snarl, but Rare Monk continue to craft a unique sound that separates them from easy-to-spot influences. Some of it has to do with the stellar inclusion of strings, which they do with enjoyable frequency. But it’s just the quality songwriting that speaks volumes. I’m extremely excited for their full-length in February.” - Obscure Sound

"Layering saxophone and violin to what would otherwise be straight-up rock jams is uncommon, but in the case of Rare Monk, it’s very successful... Mixing backgrounds and tastes is to let a lot of free radicals loose in the musical laboratory, but it produces in this case good results." - CMJ.com


Album Rating: A-

for Muzik Dizcovery @ 05/01/2013.

At first glance, experimental indie music may seem like a particularly ill conceived idea when you consider the overwhelming objective of most indie bands today. “Have we written enough hooks?” Check. “Is it friendly enough for extensive, unabashed airtime?” Check. “Well, that completes the last track on the album.” Of course, hyperbolic blemishing sees many brilliant indie bands unfairly tarnished with the same brush, but it does stress the fact that few indie bands are brave enough to deviate too boldly from the beaten track. The juxtaposition of radio-friendly pop tunes and abrasive string driven instrumentals is one which sets Oregon five-piece Rare Monk apart from their peers, and it’s this propensity to dare and to experiment which makes Sleep/Attack one of the most exciting and innovative albums of 2013.

Towards the album’s beginning, both “Death by Proxy” and “Burn Them!” showcases the band’s pop-leanings, and they unwittingly lure you into a false sense of security regarding the variation to come. Choosing first to demonstrate their mainstream appeal, Rare Monk wisely begin Sleep/Attack with their most commercially viable track. High pitched keyboards and bouncy guitars immediately enter the fray on “Death by Proxy” and set the tone for the radio-friendly vocal hooks to thrive on, as the band make their case for playtime at indie nights across the country. Although similar sonically, the winsome “Burn Them!” betrays its whimsical nature lyrically, as lead singer Dorian Aites delivers lines such as “I’ll marry you, but only for the fame,” and “I drink success, but only from your veins” with all the sweetness he can muster. Although deceivingly straight forward upon its first few listens, “Burn Them!” actually typifies the experimental nature Rare Monk embrace, and goes to show that even when their instruments sound slick and friendly, scratching the surface just slightly reveals menacing, recondite motifs.

Undeniably, Sleep/Attack’s strongest trait is that it covers a lot of ground but never spreads itself too thin – something even highly seasoned bands fall victim to. Although it incorporates strings, keys, guitars and even brass, it never feels as though the band is using a medley of sounds purely for the sake of diversification. The end product feels both smooth and seamless as if they’ve been plying their trade for years, first chiselling then polishing their sound until any coarse remnants had been eroded. We know from their recent inception however that this has not been the case, and knowing that makes Sleep/Attack all the more impressive. The greatest example of their fluidity comes when the band transitions from the squeaky-clean pop hooks of “Burn Them!” to the heavily distorted, string-driven “Dreadnought,” as it succeeds in feeling every inch a natural progression, and never a conscious transition.

It wouldn’t do the album justice to simply gloss over the experimental instrumentals which act as the centrepiece and the album’s finale. “Dreadnought” and “Mama Bear” see vocalist Aites stand aside as the reverb and distortion are cranked up on the guitars and the drumming is intensified, whilst they also contain the most effective use of strings on the album besides the excellent title track. The former focuses heavily on immediacy and aggression and it swirls in a melancholic mist: whilst the latter builds patiently, growing in intensity in typical post-rock fashion, before providing the album with a satisfying, apt finale.

Taking ambitious instrumentals and teaming them up with some of the strongest indie tracks so far in 2013, Rare Monk shun stagnation with a gallimaufry of ideas and instruments - resulting in a fresh and bold album which distinguishes itself as one of the bravest debut releases in recent years.

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