IT'S ONLY US TOUR
PAUL & THE TALL TREES
With a timeless sound that blends heavy soul and psych-rock, Monophonics have built a reputation over the past decade as one of the best live bands in the country. Led by singer Kelly Finnigan, the band of has drawn on their colorful history — both their experiences as veteran touring performers and as individuals growing up in the Bay Area — to create It’s Only Us, their fourth release since 2012.
A reflection of what they see as the current state of the world, the record touches on difficult subjects such as broken relationships, mental health issues, gun violence and power struggles, all with an underlying message of unity, resilience and acceptance. The band’s signature style of arrangement has been expanded with top-notch production and creative instrumentation to round out the Monophonics’ trademark soul sound, while Finnigan’s vocals are more powerful than ever. At times these tracks can feel classic, as familiar as an old song you grew up with, while simultaneously raising questions about the state of music in 2020 and what the future might hold.
It’s Only Us is the sound of a group continuing to grow as songwriters, musicians, performers and people — reflecting on where they’ve been, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the years to come.
Paul Schalda is a poet, perhaps a bit of a tortured soul, a hopeless romantic, and a guy from Staten Island. That last bit might not make sense to people who aren’t from New York. Let’s say that it puts the blue in his collar and sticks his feet to the ground. Paul’s music seems to embody the unexpected overlap of The Band’s Americana, Ian MacKaye’s unhinged emotion, Otis Redding’s raw soul, and the doo-wop melodies his father, Bill Schalda Sr. (a member of Brooklyn vocal group, The Montereys) raised him on. His sophomore album, So Long, is produced by long time collaborator and old friend Tommy Brenneck and Big Crown’s own Leon Michels. For the people who are already fans of Paul’s debut Our Love In Light, the growth and maturity will be impossible to miss.
So Long reads and feels like you snuck in his room and read his journal. Deeply personal and heartfelt, he takes on a variety of topics in the songs, the common thread being the vulnerability and passion he delivers them with. The opener “Although We Cry” is perhaps a perfect example what makes Paul’s music so unique. He finds a way to cut right to the bone, entirely emotional and simultaneously emotionless…“Although we cry, we are not meant to be.” The title track “Then We’ll Wave (So Long)” puts Paul amongst the great storytellers of song; tension, misdirection, and irony all play a part in taking one of the most sung about topics in life; love, and putting a brand new twist on it.
Paul spent some years out on the road playing guitar in The Extraordinaires backing the late great Charles Bradley where they became close friends. During that time he penned a few songs for Charles, one of which he wound up recording himself. That song, “Beware” showcases another side of P&TTT’s range, a gritty, driving, warning tune where the band has a chance to get funky. One thing you hear in Schalda’s music, no matter which song, is that the road hasn’t been easy. His voice can be hauntingly harsh, yet hopeful and tender, raucous and gravelly one moment, smooth and intimate the next.