Thus far in 2006, there have been a few really good records, some solid ones, and more mediocre albums than I can count. No album has hit me in a way where I have to take a step back and just mutter “whoa.” Enter The Red Tree, the new album from Canadian rockers Moneen and the first great album of 2006. I enjoyed their previous efforts, but I was not expecting this album to hit me like it did. This 11-track masterpiece incorporates beautifully crafted lyrics with music that is just as delicate as it is hard-hitting, making this album full of intensity, passion, and raw emotion.
Moneen kicks off with “Don’t Ever Tell Locke What He Can’t Do,” a fast paced song with mesmerizing guitar riffs from Kenny Bridges and Hippy Hughes. Bridges shows great vocal range and control on this track, and lyrics like “You try to say I can’t/yes I can/you can’t have all that you want/yes I can/when you’re wrong I’m still not right,” making this a great opener. The second track, “If Tragedy’s Appealing, Then Disaster’s An Addiction,” shows off how well each instrument compliments each other, especially from Erik Hughes’ bass and Peter Krpan’s drumwork, making this a favorite on the album. Plus the lyric “I’m not a failure now!” will be hard to not sing. “Bleed and Blister (Version 3)” features guitars that jet back and forth on top of pounding drums. The first standout track on the album is “The Day No One Needed To Know,” an epic track, clocking in at almost 6 minutes, and is a combination of passion and aggression. Bridges vocals remind me of Kenny Vasoli’s vocal work on the last Startling Line album, and that’s not a bad thing. The way Bridges holds out certain words on this song make it that much better. The way the song alters between gentleness to aggression is done so well here. The next track, “This Is All Bigger Than Me,” is another standout track from this album. A slower track that begins with Bridges soft tenor over a steady guitar riff and drumming, it gives me shivers. The background vocals and the way the song builds up at 2:13 is truly great; I haven’t heard this much emotion in a song all year.
The album picks up the pace again with “The Frightening Reality Of The Fact That We Will All Have To Grow Up And Settle Down One Day,” with Krpan’s drumming and the guitar work of Bridges and Hughes being the backbone of this track. “The Politics Of Living And The Shame Of Dying” is another song that starts up rather mildly but then builds up into a strong climax. Some of my favorite lyrics from this album are present here, like “Cause it’s our goddamn right to live/yet it’s still not our choice to die.” On “The East Has Stolen What The West May Want,” Bridges’ voice really carries this track, with drawn-out vocals and great control on when to be loud or quiet. “Seasons Fade…Fevers Rage…It’s A Slow Decay” is very melodic, with Bridges and Hughes harmonizing very nicely while the guitars are restless, keeping the enthusiasm up throughout. The final two tracks of the album are what make this album so great. “There Are A Million Reasons For Why This May Not Work…And Just One Good One For Why It Will” is another epic and beautiful song that’ll be one of my favorites of 2006. The vocals are right on, bursting with sincerity and a sentiment just not seen in the majority of albums these days. The final bridge is spectacular as are the lyrics “What if this had never happened?/we had never seen the light of day?/what if this had never happened?/we had never met at all?”
The Red Tree closes out with the spacey and piano-heavy “The Song I Swore To Never Sing.” Bridges’ vocals are very haunting here and I get goose bumps when I hear the final line of this song, where Bridges sings in a quiet tenor “So kill yourself/surprise your friends./Raise a toast/to everything we once had.” Simply stunning, you have to hear it for yourself, as this is one of the best closing tracks in a few years. It’s so difficult to choose my favorite song of this album, because tracks 1 to 11 are all just so damn good, making this the most complete album of 2006.
I haven’t been hit this hard by an album since Thursday released Full Collapse. The Red Tree is truly remarkable and gives me hope that emotion in music isn’t dead. Moneen has given the 2006 music year new life, as it is a breath of fresh air in this oversaturated “scene” we listen to today. Each song flows perfectly with each other and the balance between the hard and the soft sets this album on a bar that no other album of 2006 has touched. Don’t let Moneen’s The Red Tree fly under your radar; you’ll be kicking yourself for missing out on one of the best albums of 2006.