Artist: Sainthood Reps
Label: Tooth & Nail
I really like bands that are a bit weird; bands that, in a conventional sense, just don’t work, but for some reason, sound great to me. Bands like The Chariot, La Dispute, Circle Takes The Square; bands of all genres that are, for whatever reason, are just a touch eccentric. Maybe I appreciate the bravery or the originality, or maybe it’s just because I enjoy things that don’t make sense, things that I’m quite certain I couldn’t have come up with myself. These bands really don’t come around often, primarily because it’s hard to find a group of people that are not only all a bit funky, but odd in a like-minded enough way to come up with something strange, but still coherent. So when I do stumble upon such a thing, I’m always looking forward to checking them out, but I’m never quite sure what to expect, generally speaking, these bands never really reach mainstream status, but the good ones typically have some underground acclaim, and when they are relatively unknown, there could be a very good reason for that. As far as these sort of artistically unique bands, there is a very fine line separating strange and interesting, from just downright strange. So when it came to Sainthood Reps; one of these unconventional bands that was a new discovery to me, I knew things could go either way really, they could be very good and irresistibly interesting, or just kind of too strange to really want to listen to for the length of an average full length. Thankfully, Sainthood Reps are really quite good, and far from unlistenable, it’s more or less just a blend of indie, punk, and grunge, which doesn’t really sound that odd, but in reality, the number of indie-grunge bands out there is fairly limited. So it doesn’t really give Sainthood Reps any direct comparisons, at least not ones that have been active in the past 15 years, anyway.
Their new album Monoculture kicks off with the title track, showcasing their two familiar yet unconventional sounds; the signature sludgy grunge tones that haven’t really been around since Kurt Cobain died, mixed with the rough, pounding hardcore punk style of music that has been around for just as long. The rest of the album creates a sort of pendulum effect, swaying back and forth between the more grungy style, with songs like “Dingus” and “Hunter”, and the heavier, gritter punk songs like “Animal Glue” and “No/Survival”. And as inconsistent and strange as those divergent musical styles sound, the whole album comes together really well; it makes good sense, even though it shouldn’t. Conventionally speaking, this album shouldn’t be this cohesive, the two styles shouldn’t really work together, and this album should split fans between those that favor the grunge songs, and those that favor the punk songs, but I don’t really see that happening, while those styles have never really been married before, it all works together. It doesn’t sound like a split album between two bands of completely different genres, it sounds like a Sainthood Reps album, and that’s it. And that is how the best of all these unique bands are described; they don’t sound like a genre, they don’t sound like another band, they sound like themselves, and not many bands can say that.
All said, with the help of this album, and perhaps a bit more time earning their keep on the road, I could see Sainthood Reps joining the ranks of the other unconventional bands that have reached cult-status among music fans. Even those that aren’t fans of bands of this ilk – which is understandable – seem to still have great amounts of respect for them, and that is most likely because it takes huge amounts of dedication to be in a band like Sainthood Reps, they’re in it for the love of music, not because they’re hoping to top the Billboard charts one day, but because they love music, and make music they believe in. And regardless of personal music tastes, that is a quality to be respected. But fortunately for Sainthood Reps, they are also an undeniably good band, which is also a pretty damn good quality to have.
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan