Quartjar | Years of a Monkey

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Rock: American Underground Blues: Blues-Rock Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Years of a Monkey

by Quartjar

It's an eclectic mix of edgy, bluesy rock with smart lyrics and a sense of humor.
Genre: Rock: American Underground
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. What Becomes a Whore?
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4:19 $0.99
2. That's So Gay Street Blues
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4:12 $0.99
3. Staring at Your Woman
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3:41 $0.99
4. Love Theme from Arab Moon
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1:11 $0.99
5. Arab Moon
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4:18 $0.99
6. Crosstown Waltz
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5:46 $0.99
7. Evolution Works
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4:10 $0.99
8. Downtown Zurich, Saturday Night
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4:56 $0.99
9. I Got Drunk Last Night Just on the Thoughts of You
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4:07 $0.99
10. My Dad Is Bigger Than Your Dad
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3:09 $0.99
11. Truckstop
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3:09 $0.99
12. The Keeper
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0:52 $0.99
13. Freedom of Information Act
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5:47 $0.99
14. About a Woman
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2:59 $0.99
15. Science Diction
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4:33 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Knoxville, Tenn., rock band Quartjar was originally known as the New Randall Brown Quartet. We shortened the name because (1) it was too long and (2) we have pretty much always been a trio. At the core of the band are singer/songwriter/guitarist Randall Brown and drummer Donnie Mahan. Our fine and talented bass players have been Stephen Kabalka, Brian Williams, Doug Engle and Greg Wood. We lose bass players like Spinal tap lost drummers. They don’t blow up, they just keep moving away! But we keep on truckin’.

Bandleader Randall Brown is a writer, musician, journalist, photographer, Man-About-Town and, most recently, a stepdad. His songwriting has been described by critics as “quirky and literate,” and he likes that summation.

Donnie Mahan is an ex-soldier, a dad, a rock’n’roller for life and, most recently, a vendor of fine fruits. He translates a historically hard-rock drumming style into the bluesy Americana vein, offering up an assertive, creative sound that is all-too-often lacking in contemporary music.

The music is bluesy rock’n’roll, with some country/Americana tinges. Thus, Randall often tells folks that it’s “quirky, literate blues-rock.” If he remembers, he might also mention “from a punk-rock/alternative background.”

Doug Engle is the primary bass player on “Years of a Monkey.” His participation helped get this disc rhythmically enhanced. Then, as mentioned, he had to move away.

The album was originally going to be titled “Year of the Monkey,” but production was halted at times by technical roadblocks and procrastinated at times by social demands. Since the recording took us so long, and the songs come from various times in the life of Mr. Brown, we dubbed the album “Years of a Monkey.” To twist around a classic Beatles lyric, the monkey is Randall.

Auxiliary band members on “Years of a Monkey” include fine Knoxville-area musicians Chris Cook on lap steel; Laith Keilany on oud; Peggy Hambright on fiddle; Jane Crowe and Trish Davis on backing vocals; Greg Horne and Leslie LaChance on piano; and Todd Steed on bouzouki.


Reviews


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John Sewell

Review from Metro Pulse magazine
With 20-odd years of experience in umpteen combos and solo projects, Knoxville's scenester/socializer/man-about-town, that's right, Randall Brown, makes a confident step into the "legendary local fixture" bracket as his latest vehicle, Quartjar, presents "Years of a Monkey." While the album is unquestionably Brown's show, the able backing of drummer Donnie Mahan and bassist Doug Engle provides a full band feel, delivering a varied selection of sounds that showcase Mr. Brown's copious talents.

While the bulk of the album could be classified as intelligently rendered rock, Monkey features enough forays into blues, world music, and countrified sounds to make pigeonholing impossible. Never purposely eclectic, Mr. Brown is merely following his muse and capably employing the vast sonic palate at his disposal. Something of an aural grab bag, Monkey's exotically packaged musical gifts are all keepers.

Steeped in local lore, Brown is yet another unpretentiously Knox-centric artist who ranks in the local canon alongside standard-bearers RB Morris and Todd Steed . In fact, the aforementioned Mr. Steed makes an appearance on the album, along with a virtual who's who of area musicians that includes Greg Horne, Chris Cook, Laith Keilany, and Peggy Hambright, among others.

The album's real selling point is the lyrics. Ever the bard, Brown offers whimsical and introspective verse, telling stories and liberally adding dashes of humor. But this time around, Brown seems much more confident than on earlier releases. And his newfound lyrical swagger and literary sensibility is exactly what makes this Monkey a lifelong member of the Local Greats team.

Paperthin magazine

Paperthin mag review
I cannot not like Quartjar's Years of a Monkey, no matter how much I try. The more I listen to it, the more I realize it's not a great album. For some reason, though, I keep listening to it. Keep digging it. Keep tapping my foot. It’s funny, sarcastic. Hell, it's downright hilarious in parts. All that said, I just cannot give two thumbs up, and a semi-chubby to this album. My brain’s split in two.

Quartjar is, from what I can tell, Randall Brown's band. Though perusing the liner notes, I am recognizing a plethora of big name Knoxvillians. Just to name a few; Todd Steed [hell, if you don't know who Todd Steed is then shame on you], Peggy Hambright [Judybats], and Brian Williams [The French Broads]. That's just to name a few, there are many more well respected players on Years of a Monkey. Two things of note, as far as the cameos go. Uno] What the hell is an "oud?" Laith Keilany plays whatever it is on the tune "Love Theme From Arab Moon." Dos] I've come to he conclusion that Todd Steed is an even bigger musical genius than I originally thought. He plays a bouzouki. Hell, I don't know what that is, and am not ashamed to admit that I cannot pronounce it properly.

Let's set that aside, and delve into the record. Years of a Monkey delivers a wry look at our metropolis. On "Crosstown Waltz" Quartjar even gives us a breakdown of how all sides of the town factor into what makes Knoxville a whole. Is this for the world weary travelers that visit our fair city? Maybe. Could just be Mr. Brown pointing out some of the problems of KnoxVegas. He also delves into other places far, far away from our burgh. No, we're not talking about a Star Wars tribute song. On "Downtown Zurich, Saturday Night" Mr. Brown talks about being bored, even though the sights and women are fantastic, while bounding about Switzerland.

Another highlight is that the bulk of the instrumentation on Years of a Monkey is really well done. The guitars throughout are strong. The other, oddball instruments add a certain depth. Also the sonic quality of the record is right up there. Let it be said that Years of a Monkey is a well produced album.

If anything else can be noted about the record, it's that it has the best track titles that I can recall. Here is a sampling: "What Becomes a Whore?", "That’s So Gay Street Blues," "Staring at Your Woman," "I Got Drunk Last Night Just on the Thoughts of You" and "My Dad Is Bigger Than Your Dad." See what I mean.

As quirky as the title is "I Got Drunk Last Night Just on the Thoughts of You" is, it is actually a very good song. The words are somewhat funny, but the song itself appears to be very sad and genuine. Same goes with "My Dad Is Bigger Than Your Dad." At it's core it is a song about a stepfather stepping in where a birth father has been lackluster. See, what the hell? Yin and yang. Earnest and erratic at the same time.

Damn you Randall for making me enjoy your album. As Montgomery Burns would say, "Well played Mr. Brown. Well played." Just feel lucky that I didn't release the hounds upon you.