When Mon Chéri self-released its debut album last year, it wasn’t really Mon Chéri – at least not yet.
Sure, all four members of the local indie-jazz-pop group appeared on the cover art for “Colors of Love,” but only three-fourths of the band performed on the album. Drummer Brandon Vasquez didn’t join the band until the record was finished.
Now the true Mon Chéri – Vasquez along with co-lead vocalist and guitarist Patrick McHenry, co-lead vocalist Caroline Francis, and upright bassist Kurt Olson – delivers its first album of studio material as a fully realized band tonight at a release party for the new EP, titled “Mélange.”
Like “Colors of Love” before it, “Mélange” is a diverse collection of songs that center largely on love. Although Mon Chéri has about two albums worth of material written, the band wanted to do a short record to capture its sound in a compact package.
“The first CD wasn’t the very best definition of our sound,” said McHenry. “We write in all styles and have so many influences. We wanted to portray that on the new EP. There are all styles of rock, jazz, there’s a slow bluesy number. … We were trying to go with a French theme with the title and ‘melange’ means a mixture of incongruent elements. This is a little dose of everything we can do.”
The six-song EP starts off with the Americana journey, “The Interstate,” followed by “Baby Bird Fell,” a slow, smoky jazz ballad. “The Mon Chéri Opus” is a sprawling seven-minute-plus epic about floundering youth.
The album’s closer, “Wild Things” features a solo vocal performance by Francis.
The sole cover song, “Daughter,” was originally done by Louisiana prog-rock band As Cities Burn. Mon Chéri’s version of the song turns it into a lounge cut with a trumpet solo by Olson.
With its alluring vocal harmonies and a dexterous rhythm section, Mon Chéri’s Beatlesque pop sound has made the band a favorite throughout Spokane, and not just at the nightclubs, coffee shops, and wineries where Mon Chéri got its start.
Since growing from a singer-songwriter duet to a four-piece band, Mon Chéri played close to 100 shows in 2009, including community events, benefit concerts, regular weekly gigs and other shows at various venues – from The Knitting Factory, to the Martin Woldson Theatre at the Fox, to the Spokane Interstate Fair, to various farmer’s markets.
This spring Spokane’s indie darlings gear up for their first West Coast tour.
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