Moving on up: Local and making it

Well folks, we’ve made it through another C’ville summer of mint juleps, mildly patronizing after-dinner conversation, and sitting on our respective verandahs, and I for one can’t wait to welcome the fall.
With students come national music acts to prey upon them, and for a music editor, this means my job will get much more interesting. No more calendar entries describing the same band every third week, I swear! But the summer is when the locals truly come out to shine, exposing their plumage to townsfolk hungry for a lesson in musical virtuosity, tunesmithing, or just a good time. Local boys Monticello Road take a little of column A, B, and C, and produce one of the most commercially accessible sounds in town.
Formed in the summer of 1999, Monticello Road is a five-piece Southern-rock-meets-Billy-Joel party– a perfect soundtrack for sitting back on a hot evening, enjoying the company of a lady or gentleman, and drinking some cheap-ass beer. Kyle Rannigan’s acoustic guitar strumming and belted vocals merge with Vaden Cox’s electric leads, producing a fine, if familiar, sound. This is rock made south of the Mason-Dixon.
On the other hand, the often-extravagant piano flourishes of Adam Silvers are something mostly unheard in this genre and are an extremely welcome addition to the group’s standard soundscape. Bassist Jason Marshall’s lines are nice—smooth and not overly complicated, but they show technical expertise and a superb ability to flow with the piece. The drums of Josh Manzano are again not overly complicated, but they are well past adequate– solid, confident, and able.
Monticello Road is currently at work on their second album, but seven of the tracks are available in demo form, and I was able to obtain a copy. The sound of rain begins the first track on the CD, Rain, along with some rather humorously 1988 synth (suggestion– drop the synth, replace with the organ sound found nearer the end).
Monticello Road does like their choruses big– throughout the CD, cymbals, drawn-out chords, piano banging are key– basically all the elements necessary to promote concert lighter swaying and the like. “Jane’s Rhythm” sounds a little like southern-pop act Train, with a chorus that seems to explode out of your speakers, and joyous melody worthy of play on a top-40 station near you (I mean that).
Locals get no respect, and although for some groups this is a logical reaction to their sub-par musical abilities, any lack of appreciation for Monticello Road is truly a mistake. These gentlemen play big, and if their imminent accession to the second-story musical bastion that is Starr Hill says anything about them, somebody out there’s listening.

Monticello Road performs with Triple Rinse at Starr Hill on August 24. $7, 9pm.

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