In so many ways punk rock is the most freeing genre of music one can play. The chords are easy and drum beats are rather straightforward and simple and the amped up intensity and anthemic thematics and schematics make it both fun to listen to and to play. Then of course there is the matter of what stance one takes as a band as far as songwriting is concerned. Are you political? Satirical? A little of both? For with punk rock comes great responsibility and one must choose a side and choose wisely for this angle will be their calling card for as long as they remain a band, and if they begin to deviate from said side the consequences from fans can be quite detrimental.
However there are exceptions to this rule and the multi-lingual San Marcos Texas quartet Mon Freres Amigos take the high energy side of punk, mix in a bit a humor (if that’s not already clearly evident by their name) and then infect the whole thing with a bit of Texas alt-country charm. The result of all this effort is the three song EP Whistle Stop a short and sweet, high energy release that seems to see them getting closer to their self-described sound of "CBGB's meets the Grand Ole Opry," and their first foray back to fight the good fight since their 2015 full length debut Evil Company.
Mon Freres Amigos hook the listener from the outset with “Whistle Stop” with high energy alt country rock guitars, and cymbal crash heavy drums. As I listened I heard an echo of an older generation of satirical twangy rockers, both from Graeme Mullen’s grainy vocals and penchant for funny and biting lyrics, and after a time racking my brain aligned it with Camper Van Beethoven’s classic “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” I found it even more apparent on “Holiday Inn” a twangy sing-song tune that comes complete with beautiful vocal harmonies and bitingly funny social commentary, not to mention a few delicious hooks.
Listening to the three songs on Whistle Stop reminded me of the power of punk rock music, and its amoebic versatility. It also reminded me that not all music has to be over the top and intensely serious to mean something. Part of the delight of listening to this record, for me and for others I can imagine, is to bob your head along to the hooks, crack a smile at the funny parts, and just enjoy the music.
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