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The Monolith curates Dingwalls poster

It would be fair to say that we are quite pathetically excited about our upcoming shindig at Camden’s Dingwalls, where we will be bringing together nine of our most favourite acts onto one stage on one glorious Sunday, on August 21st. Just to show how much we rate these bands, we’ve had a little rummage through The Monolith’s dusty archives and put together a compendium of the choicest quotes from what we’ve already written about them over the years, along with links to the full articles.

We’ve also put together a little YouTube playlist of a couple of tracks from each of the bands to help put you in the mood – so hit ‘play all’, settle back and read what we’ve had to say, and then you’ll understand precisely why we are as excited as we are.

Agent Fresco

Agent Fresco Tech Fest 2015 - hgravesxiii

Photo by Hannah Cole – UK Tech Fest 2015

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We’ve written a lot about Agent Fresco. A lot. Including the review of last year’s seminal Destrier, reports on four different sets in 2015, a ‘Best Albums’ feature and writers’ year-end best-of lists, we’ve put finger to keyboard on 21 separate occasions about the Icelandic minstrels. The following is just a comparatively small sample:

“A significant proportion of what makes Agent Fresco’s music so special is how cohesively the band operate together. Throughout Destrier they pulse, flex, twitch and turn together like the sinews of a single, well-honed muscle. There is layer upon layer of complexity in the sound they create, yet it coalesces into something so immediately accessible that it reaches out to hug the listener like a long-lost friend… Destrier also shows that whilst their music is almost immediately identifiable as Agent Fresco, they are not bound by any restrictions of genre, making the album as much of a musical voyage of adventure and exploration as a lyrical one…. Destrier is a masterpiece; a glorious, life-affirming masterpiece that, once heard, will make you wonder how you managed without it.”

Destrier album review

Simon, July 2015

“Watching the foursome at work really gives you an appreciation of how talented they are. Drummer Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson’s complex rolling rhythms are executed with apparent ease; the guitar, bass and intermittent pianos are handled with precision and dexterity, never cloying for superiority, and used with deftness; and frontman Arnór Dan Arnarson’s voice is record-perfect, full of emotion and expertly controlled in all its gorgeous, soaring quality.”

UK Tech Fest 2015 live review (electric set)

Chris, August 2015

“Agent Fresco then slip into a set of reworked highlights from debut A Long Time Listening – and it is thoroughly extraordinary. I can’t rightly tell you what the performance looks like because, quite frankly, I have my eyes shut, but the sound of these songs is incredible. In their pared back form they are even more delicate, vulnerable and beautiful; the minimalist instrumentation giving full flight to Arnór’s soulful and emotive vocals…. Emotions are complex and capricious, so I don’t want to end this section with ‘acoustic Agent Fresco will make you cry’, because even that expectation can be enough to stop that happening. All I know is that set, at that time and in that place, spoke more deeply, more profoundly to me than probably any performance I’ve ever seen before. And I’ve seen a lot. It was an extraordinary and surprisingly cathartic experience, and one I am sure to remember vividly for years to come.”

UK Tech Fest 2015 live review (acoustic set)

Simon, September 2015

“Agent Fresco’s music contains a certain honesty and tenderness that makes it impossible not to fall completely in love with, and Destrier continues the trend with a level of elegance that most bands could only ever aspire to.”

The Best Albums of August 2015

Adam, October 2015

“Onstage, the different personalities of the four constituent members seems clearer. At the back, drummer Keli is a blur of limbs and hair as he smashes out his deft and dexterous rhythms with just the right balance of power and restraint. Toti stands largely motionless, eyes closed as he wrings the riffs from his guitar, also flitting between the guitar and keyboard. In turn, bassist Vignir acts as a kind of counterpoint to Toti, flinging himself around the stage, and throwing his instrument as far as its strap will allow. In the centre of them all, Arnór whirls around with his microphone, hitting every one of his high notes with a seemingly improbable ease.”

Craufurd Arms/Dingwalls double live review

Simon, December 2015

“Agent Fresco are a band who, going by talent alone, should be the biggest in the world, and one which every band should inspire to be. It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with them, and with this big of a step up from their previous album, there’s no telling how good the next album will be. I’m literally counting the days until such a time.”

Ryan’s Top Ten Records of 2015

Ryan, January 2016

“The album itself is extraordinary and seems to draw influences from everything from Sigur Rós to Coldplay, and Biffy Clyro to Muse, blending them into a glowing art rock style in which they explore every crevice.”

William’s Top Ten Records of 2015

William, January 2016

“[Destrier] weaves together the personal and the fictional to create an account of the consequences of violence; the immediacy of the act and the slow burn of the recovery. From the first notes, and until the last notes loop perfectly back into them again, Destrier is enthralling, emotional and engaging whether you take it at face value or properly dig into it.”

Jón Þór’s Top Ten Records of 2015

Jón Þór, January 2016

“[Destrier is] just an astounding piece of work. Across fourteen tracks there is no filler, and no repeated ideas. It’s emotionally resonant, technically astute and one of the most complete works I’ve heard in years. For the six months since its release, not a week has gone by without listening to it at least once, and most of those weeks have seen it played daily.”

Chris’ Top Ten Records of 2015

Chris, January 2016


Zoax 21.3.16 - Adam Carroll 01 - Rachael Griffiths Black Lotus Photography

Photo by Rachael Griffiths – The Borderline, March 2016

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One of those rare bands you fall completely and utterly in love with live, before ever having a chance to spin any recorded output, Zoax are a band we’ll drop everything to go and see again and again. Charismatic, with energy and soul abound, we’ve also written reams about them over the past two and a bit years. Par exemple:

“Runaway star of the show, though, is frontman Adam. Turned out in a rather dapper suit and bowtie combo and sporting a lustrous beard, he comes across like the result of an experiment splicing together the genes of Daryl Palumbo and George Bernard Shaw. His Irish charms are infectious as he bounds around both the stage and the floor in front of it. Between songs he ventures out to the far depths of the venue to herd punters closer to the stage, and then negotiates a moshpit out of a group of young lads. Great fun.”

Hacktivist, The Algorithm & Zoax live review

Simon, December 2013

“Equal parts punk, post-hardcore and Tasmanian devil, the five-piece are wild ride, with frontman Adam Carroll directing the proceedings from stage front, stage back, and more often than most, the middle of the crowd. As relative unknowns, his ability to get the audience involved is one of my favourite things about him, and will serve Zoax well in this, an important year for the band. He’s also charismatic as fuck, with his quintessential Irish “gift of the gab” as charming as you like.”

Five Bands To Watch In 2014

Chris, January 2014

“Guitars pop and buzz; at times bouncing along with energy, and at others evoking a more post-rocky feel, with delay. The songwriting is superb; always the right note is chosen, or the correct effect utilised. It’s not overly techy, and it doesn’t djent in the slightest. This is certainly a freth of bresh air.

There are a number of contemporaries that spring to mind – Exotic Animal Petting Zoo, Thrice and Circa Survive being just three – but that’s more to do with the similarity in focus; just writing damn good songs with a really good sound, rather than trying to fit within a certain style. Bands like these straddle genre boundaries, and are all the stronger for it.”

XIII EP review

Chris, February 2014

“They’re one of the finest live bands in the country right now, and it boils down to the essence of their show: yes, the music is important, and it is very good, but it’s not about showing how good they are; no, their show is about making friends. They’ve likely stood in enough crowds and watched enough other bands themselves to know that there’s nothing worse than zero chemistry between those on the stage and those in front of it, and so rather than attempting to wow the punters with fretboard histrionics, they utilise their charisma.”

Get Involved, Zoax & Love Zombies live review

Chris, March 2014

“Standing back from the EP, it’s a heady piece of work. When people talk about progressive music, thoughts generally turn to fretboard histrionics and needing LSD to comprehend the drumming patterns, but Zoax’s progression stems more from their choice of techniques and sounds – however rudimentary – to achieve exactly what they set out to do. There’s plenty to think about, even after 20-odd listens; straight up rock and roll this is not.”

Is Everybody Listening? EP review

Chris, February 2015

“Whilst the band have been building a fearsome reputation on the basis of their kinetic live shows, it shouldn’t be forgotten that those performances are built on a rock-solid foundation of great song-writing – and Is Everybody Listening? contains five great reminders of that.”

Simon’sTop Fifteen Records of 2014

Simon, January 2016

“The sideways configuration of the drum kit also lets us see just how ferociously Jonathan Rogers smacks the living shit out of his cymbals, more than matching the energy of his more mobile bandmates. Balancing the set well between new and older material, it’s obvious that there are a number of existing fans in the steadily growing crowd, with a knot of them forming in front of the stage. Those early birds are well rewarded with a tight and kinetic performance.”

HECK, Raketkanon & Zoax live review

Simon, March 2016

“We normally leave the invention of new genre names to the rest of the internet, but in this instance, we’re going to have to coin the term ‘soulcore’ for Zoax, due to the music’s expressive, often sentimental tone, and being wrapped as it is in a punchy, energetic package…

…In essence, Zoax is just a pile of fun, like a box of kittens, or perhaps an orgy – and like the latter, it’s sexy, stimulating, and you might just find you like it if you stick it in a hole it’s never been in before.”

Zoax album review

Chris, May 2016

Press To Meco

Press To Meco Tech Fest 2015 - Luke Caley - Jo Moolenschot

Photo by Jo Moolenschot – UK Tech Fest 2015

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There are few more likeable on the underground rock scene than Croydon’s Press To Meco, and by rights the trio should be huge. That they aren’t is a crime, but they’ve a strong, loyal fanbase, and work very hard playing up and down the country. A set from them will leave a massive grin on your face – a fact to which we’ve attested many times since first catching them in a King’s Cross basement venue a couple of years ago:

“A learned friend used the term ‘popcore’ to define Press To Meco’s effervescent sound, and I think that frames them perfectly. Coming across like something akin to a British Blink 182, without the cloying, nausea-inducing saccharine SoCal vibe. They deliver a sharp set of astonishingly tight, almost flawlessly packaged high-energy songs that practically drip potential from every pore. With both big sing-along choruses and some startlingly heavy passages nestled comfortably alongside each other, they completely hold my attention despite the fact that their music is nothing like what I’d choose to listen to at home.”

Press To Meco, The Sun Explodes, Legend In Japan & Chase The Day live review

Simon, November 2014

“Press To Meco are very good, and from a purely noodly/proggy appreciative standpoint are excellent musicians – but they also have the kind of broad appeal that a very large proportion of even casual music listeners should lap up like my cat does with the leftover milk in my cereal bowl when I’m not watching: noisily, and with only a base level of decorum.”

Five Bands To Watch In 2015

Chris, January 2015

“This band are a perfect blend of alt rock and tech metal that, when paired with the triple vocal harmonies, become something completely unique and totally enthralling. These guys are awesome on record, but they’re something else entirely when witnessed live.”

Five Bands To Watch At Hevy Fest 2015

Adam, August 2015

“Press To Meco virtually leak star potential, and their crisp songwriting is backed up by how much fun they’re clearly having. Guitarist Luke is also developing a neat line in amusing between-song banter, asking the crowd to confirm that they all have heads and necks before inviting them to nod them, and giving “Autopsy” a full-bore death metal introduction despite the song being anything but.”

Tech Fest 2015 live review

Simon, September 2015

“Press To Meco are a spectacle to see live: their performance can only really be likened to a parent giving their kids some Skittles, handing them some instruments and throwing them on stage – yet, despite their hyperactive presence, the band never miss a beat. There can be no doubt that these tracks are designed to fit into their energetic and consistently brilliant live sets. In fact, PTM are everything that is brilliant about the burgeoning UK scene at the moment. Good Intent is a quintessentially British alt-rock album: its perfectly constructed harmonies and pop flourishes are formulaic, but by no means in a negative way – in fact, it’s a brilliant distillation of the style at large, and if Press To Meco aren’t massive by this time next year then something will have gone very wrong indeed.”

Good Intent album review

Adam, October 2015

See what we’ve had to say about No Consequence, Exist Immortal and Brutai on page two!