Dropping the Needle with Andrew Smith of Monto

Check it out guys/gals. You probably don't know Monto yet and that's ok. Here's what I know about Andrew. He has fantastic taste, great drive, is mature beyond his years and is in an up and coming local band. Maybe it'll be three or four bands from now, but something tells me we'll hear something from him. For now though, enjoy some choice picks curated from the CFA catalogue and use the promo code to knock 5% off your order... yes even if it is on sale. And hey just to add a pick on my end, here is a live album I have been listening to non-stop lately from Counting Crows. The band priced August right out of most of your ballparks, but this is a great alternative.

My name is Andrew Smith, I’m 18 years old and I’ve been performing under my own name around the Bonavista Peninsula since I was 12. Recently I’ve started a band with a few buddies of mine, called Monto. We’re in the process of recording our debut EP “From These Brick Walls” and if you’re on the island you’ll catch us in action soon enough! Although I’m probably not as old as most of the readers, I’ve had an avid music obsession for as long as I remember. Whether preforming or listening, each experience provides a level of relaxation and a reason to get up every morning. 

One of my favourite pastimes has to be vinyl listening. I wasn’t introduced to this hobby till a couple years back, when my bandmate invited me to his house to listen to his Hi-Fi system. Until this point I had never heard a record played nor a quality audio system. I remember the night vividly as he dimmed the lights and put on a Mono UK Pressing of Jimi Hendrix’s “Axis: Bold as Love” followed by Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. To me, this was the first time I heard specific details in the music and an accurate stereo image. Instantly I fell in love. 

One of the reasons I enjoy collecting so much, is the fact it connects all of us collectors together in a way no other music format can. I have met so many friends through this hobby, not to mention being introduced to countless new artists and inspirations. For example, if it wasn’t for record collecting, I probably would have never crossed paths with my buddy Dan. It was only by my interest in his Come From Away Records project and great customer service that I got introduced Mr. Monologues in the first place, and I believe this site will be one to keep on your watch-list for some time yet! 

For this great work, here’s my top 10 records from what's available on the site.

1. American Football: American Football -- Theres something really special about 1999’s American Football released through Polyvinyl. Maybe it's the fact that it wasn’t recorded to be a huge commercial success. Maybe it's the fact that in the end of a grunge-filled era they seemed to create an alternative masterpiece with no distortion needed. Or oddly enough, it maybe the fact the members of the band had broken up by the time the album was released. Whatever the case may be, this record is one you need to hear before you die. If you aren’t part of the already cult following for this project, why not start now? 

2. The Lumineers: Cleopatra -- Ever hear the term “rainy day music”? Well, this album is just that. One of my favourite times to listen to my vinyl collection is during a rainstorm as it fits the intimate mood perfectly, and so does this record. Although only released a week ago, it's been on my playlist ever since and makes for the perfect, minimalistic sophomore LP from this group. In my opinion, lead singer Wesley Schultz could be considered this generation’s Bob Dylan.

3. Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South -- If Wesley Schultz is this generation’s Bob Dylan, former Drive By Trucker’s member Jason Isbell is this generation’s Gram Parsons. He uses this to his advantage on a number of tracks during this LP, including my personal favourite song “Goddamn Lonely Love”. Released in 2004, the name of the album perfectly describes the music inside of it. Dirty, gritty, and greasy country rock, I love it!

4. Captain Beefheart: Safe as Milk -- If you’re a lover of blues and don’t have Captain Beefheart’s debut in your collection, what are you doing?! This album features a young 20-year-old Ry Cooder (one of my favourite guitar players) and plays great from start to finish. Not to mention the hilarious scene in my favourite movie High Fidelity that includes this album. Notice Barry sells this to Louis for $40, you can get it here for $20.99 ;)

5. High Fidelity: High Fidelity OST -- Speaking of High Fidelity, I was pleasantly surprised while searching the site to find this OST on there! Although I own few soundtracks, this movie is genius and I can only imagine the songs are carefully selected from some of Rob’s (John Cusack) many mix-tapes throughout the film. This is an awesome collectors item!

6. Bahamas: Pink Strat -- This guy is one of my favourite musicians on the Canadian music scene right now. His mix of soulful harmonies, slightly overdriven bluesy guitar licks and quirky lyrics make for great listens. This album is no exception! Also, the price of this record is no testament to the quality of music here. You can barely get a Big Mac meal for $16.99, so why not check out Bahamas? You won’t regret it!

7. Leon Bridges: Coming Home -- Coming Home released in 2015 on Columbia Records is an absolute treat! Leon Bridges reminds me of Sam Cooke in so many ways, from the way he dresses to his vocal pronunciation. I love the recording techniques used on this LP, the vintage gear really makes it feel like an album straight from the '60s Stax Records. This album is a really fun listen, so much so that I’d also suggest checking out his outtakes 10” EP “Louisiana Sun”, which Dan also has featured on the site.  

8. BADBADNOTGOOD/Ghostface Killah: Sour Soul -- While everyone last year was raving about Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”, I believe this album got pushed under the covers a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, Kendrick’s album was also insanely good. But Toronto natives BADBADNOTGOOD use their jazz elements exquisitely in all 32 minutes of this album. Mix that with some of the best Ghostface verses in years and you have a solid project. I believe this was one of the most underrated albums of last year and it definitely made it into my top 5 albums of 2015. Lovers of jazz, hip-hop or both, check this out!

9. Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker -- Heartbreaker is an album that will do as the title suggests. I believe this to be the best album from Ryan’s discography and I don’t think I’m alone in that statement. Up until 2015 this album was virtually impossible to find on vinyl for a decent price, and I own the repressing which is mastered and pressed exceptionally well. The rawness of these recordings really shine on my modest Hi-Fi system and I’d recommend anyone on the fence of buying this to pick it up for that reason alone! From front to back, every song is a great one.

10. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot -- This will be the second week for this magnificent album to be featured as Evan Aucoin also chose it last week. Jeff Tweedy is one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to song writing, and this is quite possibly his best work and one of the best albums created in the 2000s. I believe one of the hidden beauties of listening to albums on vinyl is the fact it is a big inconvenience to skip a track. This allows you to listen to the full album, the way it was meant to be heard. This is an advantage for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as you need to listen through from tracks 1-10 to even try to understand this album as a whole. This album has become a corner stone to my listening experience since I discovered it a few years back, and I hope that it can become just as important to you!

I’d like to thank you guys for reading this and Dan for featuring me on the guest blog! If you guys wanna check out my band's Facebook you can feel free to at Monto (https://www.facebook.com/itsMonto/) and give us some support, we’d appreciate it! Also, there's some great stuff in the store so take a look around, you’ll be sure to find something you like!

All the best,

-Andrew Smith // Monto

Dan Wolovick