Essential New Music: Monoshock’s “Runnin’ Ape-Like From The Backwards Superman 1989-1995”

Some devotees of two-wheeled navigation will argue that monoshock suspension is superior because it enhances stability. The music of Monoshock makes no such claims; “the more unhinged the better” might have been the trio’s motto.

For a spell during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Grady Runyan, Scott Derr and Rubin Fiberglass were California’s most reliable rock ‘n’ roll vehicle for getting you right out of your head. Inspired by the sounds of High Rise and the Stooges, they had the nerve to aim past their heroes’ turbocharged energy to hit their target, except for the moments when they overshot it, Evel Knievel-style, and crashed in a glorious mess mid-song. In a time that nurtured plenty of basic rock ‘n’ roll, they played faster, wah-wahed wider, fuzzed dirtier, ran harder and didn’t sweat extraneous details like pristine recordings.

So while this collection—singles, compilation tracks and extra stuff that didn’t make it onto their lone, storied long-player, 1995 double-album Walk To The Fire—sounds like it was recorded in a box, it’s fair to say that it was a box of rocks optimized for maximum throb and squall. Bands like this can never last long; it’s just not possible to sustain this kind of off-kilter exhilaration without either evolving or burning out. But Monoshock is worth remembering and doubly worth discovering. Either way, this vinyl redux of a long-gone CD from 2004 will get you there.

—Bill Meyer