New Monsoon, a jam band with an impressive resume, exudes musicality with their latest release The Sound. A glissando on the organ jumpstarts the first track, "Journey Man," and quickly lets you know that New Monsoon’s rhythm section is on point. Never over the top, mixing a trap set with ethnic drums like congas, timbales and tablas, the rhythm section is able to add complex rhythms while still being able to give you something to bob your head to. One the best examples of this is the drum solo on "Bridge of the Gods," where Jeff Miller adds his own version of the scat.
Another thing I really like about this group is the constantly moving bass line. It prevents the music from becoming stale during the long, fluid guitar solos that sound like virtually every other jam band out there. New Monsoon’s diverse instrumentation is an obvious attempt to set themselves apart from other jam bands playing alongside them at festivals like Smilefest, All Good and Wakarusa but the banjo is drowned out by the guitars and the soft tablas are drowned out by well, everything.
The most disappointing part of this record happens about 45 seconds into the first song when Miller starts singing. The lyrics are full of lame imagery like "A man appears to lead a journey to the crystal sea." The vocal harmonies either sound like something Alice in Chains would do if they decided to play everything in a Major key signature or a rockin’ praise and worship band trying to be cool. The best track is the last track, a piano solo with no vocals. The rest of the album is plagued with singing that, although in tune, is deplorable and detracts from all of the great music on display. This would be a very good instrumental album but is instead a terrible vocal album. Looking for something that would grow on me, I listened to the album again and hated the vocals even more.