Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
The image that comes to mind when "Roam In Empty Space," new song from Texas band Monahans starts playing, is one that's got a cleft in it. It's a split screen and it's extremely cinematic. It feels like a bottomless pit, like a stampede of buffalo rushing by, trying to tiptoe, without any chit-chat. They rumble past and you can hear their wooly hides shifted and swishing and you can smell the homeless animal on them, a pungent and earthy stink. It's a song that feels like a clear window, showing a day that's been turned into a midnight by an unmovable, warlock of a storm. The transparent drops of rain streaking down the slippery glass like scared and scattering mice, exposed from a hiding place in the barn under some hay and some wayward wood. Another image is that of an old flag that seems verbal, agitated and rebellious, up there at the top of that pole. It's a flag hanging on for dear life, getting whipped in the strong wind, likely left up there and out in the elements for as long as it can remember - from the first day that it was hoisted up there via that rusted pulley. Its edges are tattered and beaten, frayed into strings at the ends and it makes cracking sounds when the wind hits it just right, making it sound like an old man getting out of bed, coming down the stairs and putting a pot of coffee on - all in that relative silence of the morning and the awakening of the knees and ankles.
Monahans make music whose muse is evaporating time - irresponsibly fleeting time, runaway time - and a merciless fear of impermanence. Its albums are anchored by the sparseness of wild horse country and by the confusion that comes when it starts becoming clearer that few things are actually bouts of randomness all just pasted together, but one continuous movement - all ocean, all waving grass feeling that wind again, pushing and prodding it. It's a band that knows when to sigh and to breathe deeply, pulling in the richness of the exhalations of the trees and the wheat fields. It knows when to charge and to snort and then to pull back again. It's a band that writes characters that know one thing in life and it's that they want their rides off into their sunsets to be moments that aren't seen just as small tokens, but as admirable endpoints.