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Self-titled EP by Rare Monk

Self-titled EP by Rare Monk


With a deft instrumental touch and evocative vocals, Portland quintet Rare Monk wends its way successfully through the excellent new four-track Rare Monk EP. The group’s first official EP is an amalgamation of tasteful balance, nuanced detail and beautiful production.

Poking around on Rare Monk’s website reveals a solid collection of singles from the last year or so that illuminate a group that knows its sound and has a distinct flavor. From the originals to the excellent cover “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the trail points toward a rapid maturation.

Rare Monk EP, as a showcase, toys with the darkened hue of an apocalyptic cynicism that easily swings back toward wistful self-awareness. “California (Will Burn)” is an interesting concoction of instrumental work that vaguely recalls the alt-rock of the mid-2000s while simultaneously managing to maintain an anxious earnestness that comes across as surprising, considering the lyrical subject material.

“Light Tricks” is airy, dripping with syrupy vocals and muted guitar fuzz. That it stays compelling throughout is a testament to the group’s understanding of dynamics and My Morning Jacket-style layering. “The Only Reason to Tour the Midwest” doubles as a bit of a punchline, pairing nicely with “California” as a counterpoint to the occasionally overwrought vibe that seeps through. “Warning Pulse” quietly closes the EP with a soundscapey instrumental background and measured vocals with finely placed harmonies.

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Rare Monk EP is a fitting debut for a band that already feels comfortable in its own shoes. Never overreaching and always well-considered, the album is a good indicator of what we have to look forward to. »

– Charles Trowbridge