Timothy Monger – Amber Lantern 

Timothy Monger - Amber Lantern

Release Date: Out Now

So, here’s a thing. I started this blog to write about music just under six years ago now. I need a name for it so I thought I’d use my surname to help people understand how to pronounce it properly (it’s Monger like hunger - not longer or sponger, capiche?). I did not expect to meet any other Mongers, let alone another music journalist and certainly not one who has created a genuinely warm, charming and enchanting album such as this. Ladies and gentlemen, please let me introduce Ann Arbor’s very own, Timothy Monger (no relation).

Anyway, on with the music. The album, ‘Amber Lantern’ (strong title, great start), opens with ‘Plough King’ and immediately you’re arrested by a dramatic, almost 80s New Romantic beat mixed with Rooney-esque vocals and melodies and the line “I could be the plough king, cutting through the hard things, I should be the plough king, making new roads”. Throw in a violin and a steadier rhythm and you’ve got yourself the kind of album opener that makes you sit up and pay attention. ‘Power Trio’ has a Weezer meets Redd Kross vibe in the sunny guitars and rich vocal harmonies singing “I’m tired of feeling shitty all the time” with all the charm of the Beach Boys. On track four, ‘Everything’, Monger has created something that sounds blissfully at peace with the world in the way Grandaddy or Midlake always managed so seemingly effortlessly – he even manages to make the line “everything has pain” sound comforting.

Timothy Monger
The wonderfully named ‘Requiem for a Ramp’ is a slow ripple and amble through an end of summer lament that grabs hold of a drum beat half way through to become an indie power ballad of hugely uplifting, hairs-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck proportions. ‘Hayward’, meanwhile, settles in to a lazy Lemonheads meets Lennon mood making the most out of each syllable of the lyrics and each steady guitar note on offer. ‘Let Night Surround You’ might only be a minute long but the a capella medieval harmonies are soothing and cheering ahead of the two-minute follow up ‘Sleepless’ which takes the same melody on to the guitar and brings the lyrics bang up to date.

As the album approaches its denouement, Monger hits us with ‘Outside the Venue’, a sad lament based around the feeling of returning to the real world outside of the gig environment and it’s a perfectly observed piece of song writing that will chime with anyone involved in the music industry on a part-time or voluntary basis. It’s almost too close to home. ‘Amber Lantern Theme’ has a melody that sounds like a slowed down Super Mario menu theme but is soon embellished to grow in to some darkwave piece of alt-synth-pop purpose made for some futuristic dystopian short film (probably by Charlie Brooker, let’s face it). The album closes out with ‘Grey’s End’ and it’s a triumphant piece of indie-pop with a Belle & Sebastian heart and the same kind of tender yet confident approach to song writing that Robert Schwartzman uses to great effect within Rooney.

This is a genuinely enjoyable, engaging, surprising and thought-provoking album which would be impressive enough for a band but to come from the heart and mind of one man is, well, it’s impressive. Then again, he is a Monger….

Live Dates:

12th May – Flying Otter Vineyard & Winery, Adrian
13th May – Old Town Tavern, Ann Arbor
27th May – CabinFest, Earlysville
9th June – Black Fire Winery, Tecumseh
21st-24th June – Above the Bridge Songwriters Weekend, Curtis
28th September – Black Fine Winery, Tecumseh
20th October – Flying Otter Vineyard & Winery, Adrian
3rd November – Cotton Brewing Co., Adrian