Sean Pinchin has had some blues in his life, judging by the lyrics of the eight blues rocking tracks on this album.
The opening and title song “Monkey Brain”, talks about giving in to base emotions (“when life gets to me, my head starts to change – I give in to my monkey brain”). The blues rock “Can’t Stand It” has a catchy guitar riff with some nice solo work sometimes popping through during the chorus. “Charity Case”, a swamp rock tune, tells us about turning away misguided sympathy and help for problems he’d rather deal with alone, "Why do you treat me like some charity case? It's not your business if I'm sober or straight".
“Hard Luck” is an electric rock & blues piece that has Sean's searing lead guitar crescendo with a one-note squeal into its signature riff with layered gospel harmonies over deep piano. “Living In The Past” deals with, as the title implies, personal issues from the past, and eases us in with Sean's falsetto before the album's engine room Adam Warner (drums) & Mark McIntyre (bass) launch into its signature groove. We then hear Sean's guitar weave in and out and Emma-Lee's backing vocals pushing the whole thing over the top.
The album takes a turn with very well titled “Goin' Hobo”, with junk-yard percussion and tongue-in-cheek lyrics about being sick of the grind and packing it all in for the hobo life, co-written with Juno winner Steve Strongman. Who hasn’t thought about that at some point in their life?
The album closes with the duo of “Monsters”, an acoustic stomper keeping with the theme of fighting one's own demons and contains a beautiful mix of tight picking all topped off with some lovely slide, and “Get Burned”, with yet more evidence of Sean's guitar prowess, pivoting effortlessly between clean playing and ultra-dirty riff-mongering. There is also a very inventive arrangement and production on this track and it's a real stand out to finish on.
I recently commented on Facebook that I would have loved to go to Ottawa to see Sean play a show with Conor Gains. After listening to this album, I wish I had made that trip. He will be at the Tremblant Blues Festival this year, on Sunday July 10, Monday July11, and Tuesday July 12, and I am planning on seeing him there, at least once.