Derek White and The Monophobics were born to boogie | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Derek White and The Monophobics were born to boogie

Derek White and The Monophobics
Derek White and The Monophobics


Derek White and The Monophobics may have hit local stages only last fall -- with guitarist Jonathan Gunnell, bassist Chad Alan Monticue and drummer Philip Falcocchio -- but the group's namesake has been honing his songwriting and bedroom-producer skills for some time. And judging from this self-titled full length release, he's been listening to a lot of old records.

The dominant influences seem to be the Beach Boys' multi-part vocal harmonies (especially on songs like "Oh, Cataline"), '70s soft rock, Ben Folds and The Beatles. When the guitars start to raunch things up, like on the fuzz-blues "Space Age Mrs. Long Legs," the hefty dollop of T-Rexstacy points out the underlying Bolan boogie in many songs.

The most immediately impressive aspects of these 14 unabatedly catchy nuggets are the complex vocal arrangements, which you simply won't hear in many local bands. (That the complexity sometimes gets ahead of the pitch quality shouldn't diminish from the imagination at work here.)

There are a couple of nods to the fact that this retro-pop fantasia came to life in Western Pennsylvania, not Southern California: the hyper twang of "Surfin' the Allegheny" and the soft-rockin' "You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania." Songs that depart from the standard Derek White sound include the Bee Gees-ish disco of "We Can Slide" and the Gary Glitter pep-rally number "Mean Tambourine."

The risk in successfully emulating the sounds of yesteryear is sounding a bit like a ripoff. Is the opening of "Run, Run, Run" really just the intro of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" with a slight tweak? Do we care? I'd like it a bit better if the band found its own sounds to pet, but it's a massively tuneful way to start the summer.

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