"Urgency" (STM Records; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Based on the reviews below of 2006's "Monkey Underneath," ISM's "Urgency" is more of the same from the band. A few solid rockers, a slow song thrown in here and there, emotional vocals and above-average songwriting. More of the same? Maybe. But when a band has a unique sound they can call all their own, as ISM does, that's not a bad thing.

There are a number of tracks here that can be called solid modern rockers with a haunting and theatrical sound. Sometimes the band gets a little funky ("Animadversion"), sometimes they slow down a little ("Ash and Rose") and sometimes they just flat-out kick ass (the groovy "Sacred Cows"). But they always surprise you. The band's ability to mix alternative with electronica and not bore you to death with either is amazing. 

Although each track has its own attitude and feeling, the overall emotion of the album seems to be a battle against hopelessness. "Urgency" is a grim cautionary tale about the not-too-distant future and it is not a happy story, but there is a blush of optimism here that gives the CD balance.

I can hear elements of the Beatles here, as well as Pink Floyd and even a little Tangerine Dream. But the sound is pure, genuine ISM and it can't be pigeon-holed so easily. "Urgency" is fresh and oddly familiar at the same time. A perfect mixture.

Yes, at times "Urgency" slows almost to a halt but those times are few and far between and the CD's more active tracks will hold your attention. Repeat listenings also uncover melodic hooks that will have you at least humming along in no time.

ISM: Andre Mistier – vocals, guitar, keyboards, programming; Gerard Toriello – vocals, guitar; Leigh Battle – bass guitar, vocals, weird sounds; Michael Higgins – drums.

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"Monkey Underneath" (STM Records; 2006)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

The first song on this CD, “Beside The Sun,” starts this disc off with potential. It’s got a funky riff and great vocals, something to sing along with, and each song after that has original guitar and that makes it more enjoyable.

"Monkey Underneath" does slow down in the middle and that’s too bad. Ism could have plowed in and kept the same brute force as the disc started with. It gets a little Beatles-esque toward the end. The music is still good, though, and they get props for that.

The vocals save the songs that "mix a little whine with cheese," but the singer has good delivery and fans of Tonic, Oasis and INXS will like the vocal style of Andre Mistier. Since the music has that funky tone to it the songs have originality to them, not so much as to tattoo them on your memory but interesting sounding nonetheless. The band mixes industrial, electronica, and trip-hop.

The best cuts are “Beside The Sun,” “Goodbye,” and “Breath.”

ISM: Andre Mistier – vocals, guitar, electronics, keyboards; Gerard Toriello – vocals, guitar, bass; Leigh Battle – bass; Mike Higgins – drums.

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"Monkey Underneath" (STM Records; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Immediately, I knew there was something special about the ISM and their CD, "Monkey Underneath." Unfortunately, at about the same time, I knew there was also something that I did not like. 

Ism can rock and, when they do, this CD is something to behold. On the other hand, when the band slows down, the entire project grinds to a painful halt. 

"Monkey Underneath" is evidence that Ism has all the potential to be a high energy rock'n'roll band. Alas, they spend most of their time wallowing in down tempo, minor key sludge pots that probably define the mindset of this band. 

On their next CD (and they are talented enough to all but guarantee another CD), Ism should speed up their music, slow down (or stop) their introspective bullshit and just make music that rocks. There are enough sludgy bands out there and, on "Monkey Underneath," Ism is yet just another one.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01 Apr 2024 12:16:14 -0500 .