-056- LOS MONJO "La Vida Que Todos Envidian" LP

by TRABUC RECORDS

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-400 copias vinilo negro
-200 copias vinilo blanco con parche serigrafiado incluido (sólo pedidos directos)


US pressing on DISCOS MMM.

"Guadalajara's LOS MONJO have taken a slow and steady route to their first LP, releasing 3 7"s and a couple of splits over the past six years. In a Mexican scene which, according to the local blogger at "Musica Inclasificable," is often imitative of US/UK punk, their musical roots in 80's Spanish punk stand out - but have won them listeners mainly in Spain and the US. In Mexico, he summed up their situation with the words "uno nunca es profeta in su propia tierra" (one is never a prophet in one's own land). Their earlier song "Afiliados a otras tierras" (Affiliated with other lands) references this.

Around the time of the "Mexicanos al grito de mierda" 7" they fell out with Miguel Ruiz, the producer who taped all their early records, and the sound has changed a bit since. The mix here has the bass even more prominent than before, a position which unfortunately foregrounds occasional wobbles in timing. There's also a cleaner vocal recording, and vocalist Tucho is moving in a more melodic direction. Second song "Al filo de una era", for example, shows vocals noticeably stretching out more into a yell-sing, taming the fury of older tracks like "Solo in este pais." The new approach still works for songs like "La vida que todos envidian" (which is mentioned in interview as far back as 2009) but elsewhere begins to sound as if he is over-confident about his limitations.

However, the lyrics retain a resounding power, which probably won't come through in my attempts at translation - like "Herederos de la miseria": "Altaneros, bulliciosos, libertinos, desastrosos / Aburridos rutinarios de eso no somos partidarios / Poseedores de riquezas, de tesoros, de grandeza / Y nosotros majestades, herederos de la miseria" (The arrogant, the boisterous, the libertines, the awful / Boring functionaries, we have no part of that / Possessors of riches, treasures, grandeurs / And then our majesties, the heirs of misery.) or the lines from "La vida que todos envidian" - "Mi cuerpo esta hecho para recibir placer / Y hare con el lo que quiera hacer / Muchos quieren cambiar mi rumbo mi direccion / Pero nunca me arrepiento de lo que soy / Es la vida que todos envidian / Es la vida que vivo yo." (My body is made to receive pleasure / And I'll do what I like with it / Many try to change my course and direction / But I never regret what I am / This is the life that all envy.) That title track is the pick of the bunch, and side 1 in general stands up to their earlier records despite my issues with the sound.

Flipping the record over, it's worth remembering that they don't like to identify too much as punk, saying "Mira nosotros mas que punks nos consideramos rockers pero como solo sabemos hacer musica de tres acordes hacemos Rock Basura [...] Veo claramente que Los Monjo es una banda mucho mas Punk que muchas que presumen serlo." (See, we consider ourselves rockers more than punks but since we only know how to make three-chord music we make Trash Rock [...] I clearly see that Los Monjo is much more of a punk band than many who call themselves that.) This tendency leads to some material which is pub-rock bland, occasionally plodding and obvious. "Rock basura" may deliberately indulge this because of its title and lyrics, but it drags in the second half, which prolongs the chorus chords while the guitarist takes a fairly standard mid-paced trip round the fretboard. "Hey tu" is a would-be anthemic number which feels written to order - more an exercise in a CICATRIZ-like group chant number than something inspired in its own right. These songs hint at LOS MONJO believing in their own myth a little and reaching for a grandiose sound that comes out as blustering.

I suspect a live tape containing these songs would be an absolute banger, but as it stands this LP is a mixed bag despite some very spirited high points."
Alex Hannan
www.collective-zine.co.uk

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released January 10, 2014

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