What's Spinning

Mouthful of pirate lingo

Banjo slamming and powerful voices carve out albums by Cistem Failure and Here be Monsters


Two albums, a world of questions and anarchist rhythms snap this week’s selections to attention. 

‘Singles’ – Here Be Monsters

Here Be Monsters initially sounds more like a mouthful of pirate lingo rather than a band name, but upon listening to “Monachopsis,” the first track on the “Singles” album, the band name seems to be a perfect match for this acoustic release of tracks by the Georgia-based solo project. “Too late to explore the earth, too young for the universe,” begins this album, exploring place for the newcomer to the acoustic folk genre across the country unfamiliar to those of the “folk-punk” feel. 

The addition of a bit of drums on “Sunset on Matheson” brings out the heartbeat of a slew of questions that many artists ask themselves on a daily basis. Several artists struggle with self-worth, but to hear “a mess I can’t seem to clean up, a mess that permeates everything I am” sung with such soul and heart makes the listener take a deep look inside their own creativity and start trying to answer their own questions. 

Here Be Monsters continues to bring punk rock attitude with passionate vocals and slamming guitars to this collection of emotional and intellectual songs. “Carry On” stands out as an instant classic on the album, as wishing someone a farewell can sometimes be the hardest feat to follow through with, especially if that farewell might leave one incomplete. Nevertheless, the song delivers the message of vaya, pues while still acknowledging that the goodbye had to be said. 

Following that wonderful display of musical emotions, Here Be Monsters follows this with a song of self with “Civil War,” where one dives into the pits of uncertainty and dependency, but rallies up behind the cry of, “I’ll be the last one standing in the battle with myself.” After all, nothing is easy, but “what worth having is?” 

Throughout the album, Here Be Monsters gives the listener song after song of well-thought-out lyrics and powerfully catchy music for those interested in a more edgy approach to emotional acoustic punk and folk music. It becomes hard to stop listening. “Existence is only the beginning,” after all.


‘Resilience’ – Cistem Failure

Straight out of the gate, Cistem Failure lets the listener know exactly where they stand with the current state of affairs in this fast-paced, toe-tapping, anarchist DIY album. 

“Desert” opens things up with banjo slamming and powerful voices echoing, “The tables are turning, the cities are burning,” which is followed by the haunting ballad of “Anywhere But Here,” which displays a chilling picture of a world full of control, one where one cannot be freed from nightmares. Sticking to its guns, Cistem Failure assures the listener that despite the dark cloud, “We won’t be trapped, we are breaking our way out.” 

The combination of guitar, banjo, violin and piano on “A Bigger Cage is Still a Prison” brings out a doomy bluegrass feel to an otherwise serious feeling of being trapped and longing to be free. The need to be reconnected with nature emanates from the deepest depths of the song and the pain of being caged is wonderfully expressed though the sorrow of the instrumentation and vocalization displayed in the song. 

The true poetic aesthetic of the band is heard in the lyrics in the songs on the album as they grace the listener through banjo plucks and heartening vocals. Such examples can be seen in

“Disconnected” by comparing one’s death to that of a solar eclipse and asking, “How do we decide another one’s worth?”

Cistem Failure closes the album with an ode to animals everywhere on earth and lets the listener know that we are not just entitled to the rights of animals. 

Many anarchist bands today follow in the well-preserved footsteps of the great anarcho-punk wave from the 1980s in England, which brought forth bands like Crass, Conflict, Icons of Filth and many others. These bands warned against nuclear war, advocated for animal liberation and personal freedom while at the same time breaking down the barriers of the established music clichés. Bands like Cistem Failure well represent the memories and positions of those bands that carved out the way for so many of the new guard to take up and make their own.