The hidden gem of the limestone

Guitars can melt faces, but cellos melt hearts. This seems to be the driving force behind the Kingston-based band Monuments and Statues, a group that shirks the traditional rock ensemble for the likes of the banjo, cello and some excellent harmonies.

The five-piece group is comprised of Queen’s students of the past and present, one of which is a psychology master’s student and three of which are studying geology. While this certainly means they love rock(s), they strive for a sound that is more eclectic; a hybrid of pop, folk, classical and carrying undertones from whatever other genres they see fit.

Geoff Reith, one of the Monuments’ three vocalists and their sole banjoist is also responsible for the bulk of the songwriting. He “creates the skeleton of the songs,” and says that the band collaborates to flesh out the rest of the song as they rehearse.
“Because of our unusual instrument combinations it’s hard to say that we sound like any one particular band or ‘sound.’ We try to create each song as its own unique piece, and because of this our songs tend to be very diverse,” he said.

This is substantiated by their lyrics that circulate around story-telling. Fictional places and events are often evoked, and you may notice a song about a ghost.

Instead of being confined to a set genre, their style “evolved out of our … common goal of writing music that is both fun and intriguing,” the band said.

Monuments and Statues recently released their four song EP for free from their website. The album has served to expand their audience and because of the small monetary investment involved in its recording, they decided to make it available for listening for no extra cost.

With the support of the Kingston-based YGK records, the band is hoping to release a full-length album in the near future. Hoping for some studio time, the band will incorporate new material and fine-tune some of the songs they’ve been performing for years.

The band last recorded in a studio when they contributed a track to , a CD that fundraised for the Kingston Humane Society.
Besides recording, they’ve also had a steady presence playing shows in and around the Queen’s campus.

“Our first show was at Bar-None, (now The Spot) and we opened for one of our favourite bands, Mother Mother. … The Mansion and Clark Hall have [also] been very good to us, and we have had many good shows at both of those places,” they said.

Monuments has also played at the Wolfe Island Music Festival and will attest that they had “a lot of fun.”

This is not to say that Monuments and States are all about having fun and putting on a great sonic show; another facet of their performance is fashion, and at a performance they once took a break between songs to debate the merit of jeggings.

When the subject was broached, Geoff gave a thoroughly contemplated answer.

“On one side you have the jean purists who will insist that pants should be completely in-elastic, whereas on the other hand one could argue that jeggings combine the unique comfort and style of leggings with the time-honoured visual aesthetic of denim,” he explained.
These wise words were contrasted with their preference of peanut butter over jelly.

“In today’s hyper-allergenic world, it can be used both as a weapon and a delicious source of protein,” they said.

If you like catchy songs, stretchy denim and a fun time, come see them play. Even someone deathly allergic to peanuts will have to admit that there’s some inexplicably sexy about a girl playing cello.

Monuments and Statues play tonight at Clark Hall Pub along with Bravestation and Dora Alexander. The free show starts at 9:00 p.m.

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