Half a century since the ‘60s, and modern music continues to rely on the neural framework of psychedelia established during that seminal decade. Sure, not everybody is noodling on guitars and hand-dancing, but for San Francisco’s Monophonics, the set and setting haven’t changed. What has changed is the music. “We try to stay true to the old-school, retro style of our genre, but mix it up with some modern stuff, too,” vocalist/keyboardist Kelly Finnigan says. “This soul and funk resurgence is great to see and be a part of.”
Indeed, the combination of guitarist Ian McDonald, bassist Myles O’Mahony and drummer Austin Bohlman, plus the soaring horns of trumpeter Ryan Scott and saxophonist Alex Baky — as well as the rich synth and echoing voice of Finnigan — creates the sense that the only thing missing is George Clinton’s mothership. Heavy thump-and-bump funk with a twist of what Finnigan calls “the drug influences of the psychedelic movement” allows Monophonics to become a polyphonic sonic trip.
“Monophonics are in your brain,” McDonald says, in reference to the practice as well as the product, the band’s recently released record. In Your Brain, a tighter, more mature effort than previous albums, is a well-rounded cranial exploration that makes your pupils dilate almost as fast as your legs start moving. The eponymous single, “In Your Brain,” is a lifted swinging throw-back jam, while “Mirage” and “Temptation” are cooler, groovier, soul-wailing numbers. And it only proves the point when Monophonics cover Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Going On.”
Monophonics play 9 pm Saturday, July 7, at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge; $10 adv., $13 door.