MONOLITHS is the sophomore album of Crook & The Bluff. It’s an epic 93 minute psychedelic journey that took 1.5 years to complete. Each song paints a vivid sonic landscape. Close fans and critics of the band who've had an exclusive listening sessions describe it as an audio movie and 'Trenches' (finale track) being 'a true rock opera'. The core of the album was recorded live at Archive Recordings in SLC, UT from January ‘19 to June ‘20.
- Booze Tooth
- Ballad of Blue 52
- Tennessee Storm
- New Shade of Blue
- My Girl
- Electric Cathedral
MONOLITHS should not exist.
Truth be told, the entire reason behind naming this monstrosity “MONOLITHS” lies in the fact that with every single step we took forward, we had to stop dead in our tracks, reassess our priorities and learn to walk again. Both personally and as a group, there were monolithic obstacles we desperately sought to survive. The loss of two close family members to terminal illness, a long time lover and (since the release of “Down to the Styx”) eight members were among these Monoliths.
The monumental scope of this sisphophisian undertaking (especially as an unsigned band) was dwarfed by our drive to capture the magnitude of these songs. And in no way are they conventional. Genre bending, time signature/tempo changes and non-pop oriented structures are all geared at story telling rather than the traditional verse/chorus template. Not to mention, most of the tracks weigh in around 6-8 minutes and the album finale, “Trenches” at 22.
Conceptually, we aimed at creating audio textures (“texshuz” as the band would call it) that pushed the listener past the threshold of their sanctuary and down our sonic rabbit hole. Less is more, song is king and story is paramount (These words written in block letters on the wall of our rehearsal studio). Silence and space were equally as important as the instrumentation and tone. Priding ourselves in the ability to provoke the question in the listener: “How the fuck did I get here?”, we intended to seamlessly transcend genres to whatever the song called for. If the narrative beckoned for a heavy metal ending, we’d go there- with bells on.
The lyrics for MONOLITHS were not easily written. This was a painfully introspective analysis of how I love, mourn and empathize. If you’d like to learn more about the meaning behind some of these lyrics I’ll be posting a journal entry along with the song lyrics here.
Over the course of the last 5 years, we’ve played countless shows across the western United States and Europe. This, along with a myriad of “enhanced” rehearsals and writing sessions was critical in developing each and every moment of the record. If there was only one word to describe this album from our perspective, it’d have to be: intentional. These songs which were written over the course of 7 years were part of a much larger batch that we trimmed down from 22 to 13 tracks.
There’s no way around it, Wes Johnson is the man. Engineering this album was no small feat especially with the outlandish requests made by yours truly on a daily basis. From recording guitar solos outside against a warehouse wall to micing the sound of planes as they flew overhead to managing over 300 tracks on “Trenches” alone to scrapping almost 100 hours of tracking because “it just doesn’t fit the vibe” to dealing with the oil spills that leaked out of our old-ass vehicles on his newly paved driveway to putting up with our temper tantrums, Wes was there with us every step of the way maintaining a cool head and saying “sure, we can do that” at every oddball request. A more patient man has yet to be born. And in his words to the next band recording at Archive Studio after we finished tracking MONOLITHS when asking to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake, “Well,” he said, “ if the Bluff Boys were here, they’d have hired an actual rattlesnake...” We love you dearly Wes.
To our fans: Immeasurable are the number of times we’ve been unequivocally humbled by you. From the bottom, top, port and starboard of our hearts we thank you for collectively acting as first mate and co-piloting this ship through stormy seas. We’re grateful for every drop of sweat, every worn out dancefloor, every psychedelic trip, every festival in the middle of nowhere, every closed down bar, every round of shots, every joint and every meal we’ve gotten to share with you. Trust me when I say, when we’re not with you in the physical form, we’re plotting how we can be again. Your support is the wind in our sail that propels us through the dark and foggy night. We’re beyond fortunate to have you on our team. You truly afford us with the ability to continue bringing our music into this fucked up and exquisite world. Your embrace both physically and audibly is what keeps us creating. Thank you for that.
A very special thank you: to the incredible musicians (and bassists ;) who played on this album and helped us see our vision through to fruition. Let’s just say we ended up hiring about half of Salt Lake City in search of the right players. However, upon finding these select few, you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ll be working with them on projects to come.
See album notes and guest musicians here.
Death is undeniable on this album, but through this “incredible loss”, these songs were birthed into the world. Our deepest desire is that this album touches others as it has us through creating it, even if it's only by the sheer release of raw emotion. I think we're all missing that in one form or another right about now.