Good Monstersby Jars of Clay
The evolution to a pure rock sound on Jars of Clay's seventh studio album, Good Monsters, is not a far cry from traces of alternative rock that surface on nearly all of their recordings in one degree or another. Fans accurately predicted a return to a harder-edged rock outing after the band's three previous efforts -- 2003's Furthermore and Who We Are Instead, as well as 2005's Redemption Songs -- leaned primarily toward a stripped-down folk sound. Monsters stretches the four-piece band past any set of expectations and results in its boldest effort to date. Known for introspection and openness, their lyrics this time around offer no singular message other than an unapologetic admittance that they don't have all the answers. Songs bounce from haunting to lilting, pensive to provoking, ultimately creating a set list that is cohesive only in its self-examination. Among the many standouts, the jarring opener, "Work," manifests within seconds that acoustic guitars have been set aside in lieu of a more raw, glaring sound. "Dead Man (Carry Me)" gets going with a jangly guitar riff and heavy beats resembling secular contemporaries the Killers. "There Is a River" finds its place among the band's greatest, taking an Americana drive à la Counting Crows' "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" or Ingram Hill's "The Captain." "Mirrors & Smoke" features a duet between lead vocalist Dan Haseltine and ex-Sixpence None the Richer frontwoman Leigh Nash. The bandmembers continue to bear sonic ode to Toad the Wet Sprocket and U2 on this record, but they draw upon enough of their own trademark sound that only isolated moments would evoke comparisons to the latter's mid-decade classic How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Good Monsters doesn't aim for arena rock, but it remains well-crafted and vulnerable at the core. Jars of Clay bear the cross of being compared to their self-titled debut with every following record. Good Monsters is a departure from that debut, but assuredly a welcome one that yet again demonstrates the band's depth and talent.
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Performance CreditsJars of Clay Primary Artist
Ashley Cleveland Vocals
Rosemary Butler Vocals
John Catchings Cello
Kim Fleming Vocals
Kris Wilkinson Viola
Leigh Nash Vocals
Aaron Sands Bass
Jennifer Kummer French Horn
Ned Henry Violin
Kate York Vocals
Jeremy Lutito Drums
Technical CreditsJulie Miller Composer
Ron Aniello Composer
Jars of Clay Producer,Art Direction,Audio Production
Dan Haseltine Composer
Charlie Lowell Composer
Stephen Mason Composer
Terry Hemmings Executive Producer
Matt Odmark Composer
Christopher Davis Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Tim Parker Art Direction
Mitch Dane Engineer
Jonathan Richter Art Direction,Cover Design
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Good Monsters has a raw quality that allows any listener to relate and understand each song, despite the poetic license "Jars of Clay" took in writing this album. The transparency and honesty is refreshing to "Christian" music, but if one is looking for a traditional praise and worship style, you may be disappointed. This is an album with grit and soul, like some classic hymns, or a good blues album, "Jars of Clay" delivers to those interested in authentic living.
What more can a Dove and Grammy-laden band achieve? Jars of Clay is no longer constrained by needing to prove anything. With Good Monsters, they go against the grain with a delightfully unexpected concept album an intricate and masterful mix of styles that fit together in a platinum-bound puzzle. This is not a typical Jars of Clay album, except that it's typically brilliant. It's early yet to be naming this the album of the year, but it will surely be in contention. (full song by song review available at Sockspider.com)
All I can say is that this is one of the most incredible rock albums I have ever heard. Seriously, these guys are exceptional lyricists and very creative when it comes to putting together 12 fresh tracks on this disc. Easily one of the most innovative and original rock albums in recent history. Good Monsters isn't just an amazing rock record, it is a record that will confirm Jars of Clay as one of the most important bands around. These guys have something to say and I am more than willing to listen.
When I first got "Good Monsters", I wasn't too sure about it. After having listened to it, however, I thought, "Well, it's not bad". Then I listened to it again, and thought "You know, this is pretty good". And now, of course, I think it's excellent. Musically, tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11 are my favorites. Lyrically, I really like tracks 3, 4, 5, 7, and 11. Probably 7 ("Oh My God") and 11 ("Light Gives Heat") are my favorites, if I were forced to pick. Overall, an excellent album.