Brother O’Brother “Monster Truck” 2018. Romanus Records. 5-song EP, super-limited edition (50 copies) custom vinyl Nerds Candy variant. Today, October 10th, is BoB’s guitar/vocalist Chris Banta’s birthday (b. 1986). Banta and BoB drummer Warner Swopes also run Romanus Records, the Indianapolis-based label that cranks out the most insane custom vinyl imaginable, this time it’s a record chock-full of Nerds candies but they’ve also created the world’s first remote controlled LED-lit record, oil-beer-water filled records, sand-filled to look like the old Simon Says game…it goes on!
We went down to Indianapolis in August for the Monster Truck EP release party, which coincided with the first ever Romanus Records fest, and I was first in line to put my name down for a copy of the EP. Chris graciously hand-delivered it to me in Milwaukee at the end of August when they played at the Cooperage for Moon Rats’ Highway Lord record release (we saw them again just a couple of weeks later when they performed with Pack AD at Company Brewing).
Monster Truck is heavy heavy garage blues, delivered with the fervor of a true-believer. It’s also really really funny! The opening track, the fire-and-brimstone gospel and grunge howler “Unleavened”, has the line “But these world leaders are trying to play whack-a-mole with your very soul.” And the title track “Monster Truck” – an all-out ass-shaking balls to the wall rocker, has the chorus “I’m in love with you baby, like a monster truck.” Which is funny in and of itself but the thing is that young Chris Banta had dreams of either being a professional basketball player or a monster truck driver, so this song really is his ultimate ode to love. The video is also the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a long time.
“Gold” is thunderous and exciting, a wall of fuzzed-out guitar and crashing drums and then “Howlelujah” slows things down to a determined stomp highlighting BoB’s blues and gospel influences. “Must Be Blind” is another slow-burner full of big rock-n-roll power chords concluding with a recording of an over-the-top announcer at, what I can only assume is, a monster truck event, the sounds of crushing and mayhem overlaid with engine revving before switching over to Banta’s and Swopes’ other true love, WWE. The last track “Omni” is a really tight interplay between Banta’s guitar and Swopes’ heavy-hitting rhythm. But wait! Just when you think the EP is over, there’s more “Omni” that starts off fuzzy and dark before becoming uplifting and soaring and with a completely different sound and flavor than the usual BoB sound. A nice surprising treat at the end, fitting for a record filled with candy.