Friday, November 09, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Sprung Monkey-Situation Life

Black Cat Do Records

In many ways you could say that San Diego's Sprung Monkey are like the band Sugar Ray. Now, hear me out before you go to tune me out. Please. When Sugar Ray released "Lemonade and Brownies" (with an album cover featuring Nicole Eggert) they were this punk/hardcore/hip-hop/funk metal outfit. While it didn't go down with everyone (the album bombed) the album was at least adventurous and the band choose to different then the bulk of pop music at the time. Sprung Monkey must have thought that going the Sugar Ray way was the only way to survive. To be fair making a move towards a more commercial pop sound did result in big things for the band. Sprung Monkey went on to appear on the TV show "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and also contributed songs to movies like "Dude, Where's My Car?", "Van Wilder" and "Ten Things I Hate About You". So, selling out proved to be a successful move for the band. But, that can never take away from the appeal of "Situation Life". Sprung Monkey was formed sometime in 1991 and the band's early sound (as evident by this raw 13-track album) was more underground rock and less "surfing in the sun" pop rock. From an impromptu survey of friends and colleagues this is one seldom heard of band to begin with so it's rather doubtful that anyone would just stumble upon this album in the first place. How this 13-track album even fell into my hands is a mystery lost in the cobwebs of my aging mind. Not that it matters how and why this San Diego band came my way. In the end this could be considered many things- skate punk, hard rock, 90's funk metal, hardcore, etc. Sprung Monkey's first release is all of that and more. You could make the argument that this is what the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (or more specifically bassist Flea) would sound like if they got their fill of rock-fused hardcore. While the bass playing is pure Flea the guitars offer crushing riffs. The end result is a heavy and often times angry album from a band not willing to stay within the confines of typical punk/hardcore. It's a shame that the band had to go the way of Sugar Ray or that they though Smashmouth was a better option then Subzero, but it is what it is. At a little over 50 minutes (and featuring a heavy cover of  the new wave hit "Turning Japanese") this is a funk/punk meets hardcore/metal underground classic and a reminder that selling out leaves a bad taste in far too many people's mouths.

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