Review: Michael Monroe’s Horns and Halos


I thought Michael Monroe was constantly being featured in Hails & Horns Magazine, but then I actually sat down and read the press release in front of me. Ah, Michael Monroe and his band apparently have a second album out, and it’s called Horns and Halos. My bad.

And for the most part, it’s a good album, if somewhat of a mixed bag. “TNT Diet” is fast, loud, throw-yourself-off-the-rafters-in-excitement rock n’ roll that almost sounds like classic Hanoi Rocks;  “Saturday Night Special” and “Stained Glass Heart”  prove that that Monroe is still the Energizer Bunny of punk rock, while “Soul Surrender” will remind you that raw, melodic punk is still his pretty much Monroe’s bread and butter; and the title track and “Child of the Revolution”  are straight-up, gritty numbers with a darker tone, which make them the album’s standout cuts.

In other places, though, the album drags a bit. “Ballad of the Lower East Side,”  an ode to New York City’s dirtier years is definitely mournful in the way that only people whom have actually performed at CBGBs could be,  is deflating, redeemed only by a clap-clap-clap beat and section of swooing “Hallelujah!”s. “Don’t Block The Sun,” the mellowest tune on Horns and Halos, is a direct contrast to the record:calm and slight, it sounds a little like ‘90s radio rock in the vein of — I hesitate to say it, but it’s true!!! — a band like Gin Blossoms.

Still, Monroe mostly avoid a sophomore slump. Bands often lose some of their steam with all the effort put into their second release, but Horns and Halos is actually a fairly respectable follow-up to 2011’s Sensory Overdrive. A lot of the credit belongs not just with Mr. Monroe, but with his band, too. While Steve Conte, Sammi Yaffa, Karl Rockfist, and Dregen are all highly talented musicians in their own right, together with Monroe, they sometimes achieve something irresistibly good.

Michael Monroe’s Horns and Halos is out now on Universal. Stream the title track here and buy the album here.

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