Thee More Shallows Monkey Vs. Shark EP

[Turn; 2006]

Styles: avant indie rock
Others: Mount Eerie, The Robot Ate Me, Why?, Radiohead (yeah, I fuckin’ said it)

Looking at the cover art of this EP, one sees an illustration of a rambunctious monkey and shark in a bedroom setting. What does it all mean? Is it a pictorial allegory where the monkey represents evolution and the shark religion (Jesus fish)? Is it a visual description of the struggle between the sexes—the monkey, male; the shark, female? Masculinity emphasized by such statements as "monkeying around," "monkey wrench," and the monkey armpit scratch; femininity by the sniffing out of lifeblood, water birth (the womb tank), and that smooth, sexy, and sleek dorsal fin? The gender war has been well documented:

Mick Jagger: "I'm a flea-bit peanut monkey...I'm a monkey man!" ("Monkey Man", 1969)

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: "Sharks, they're state of the art/ They're top of the heap/ The T-Rex of the deep." ("Sharks", 2002)

T. Rex: "The sea beasts scull the waters." ("The Sea Beasts", 1969)

Then there was the following attempt made by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart at pacifying the situation, though ignored by the music industry:

The Monkees: "Hey, hey, we're the Monkees/ People say we monkey around/ But we're too busy singing to put anybody down." ("(Theme From) The Monkees", 1966)

And then there is the feather the monkey wields in the illustration. Is it for tickling—torture? Does it belong to Yankee Doodle? Has it been plucked from the plume of a peacock? The music on the EP is just as cryptic as the cover art. Thee More Shallows combine mature gadget noises with flimsy toy sounds. The band is playful, but deadly serious. As Buck 65 once said: "I like human contact, but I don't like to play-fight." This animalistic bedroom romp is more than just touching and teasing—it's a battle.

Dee Kesler, Chavo Fraser, and Jason Gonzales are clearly referring to an intimate struggle, as the lyrics of the title track indicate: "On creepy sheets in the dark / I was the monkey and you were the shark." The drone, percussive erraticism, eroticism, and siren squeals of the opening number even need the following track, "Int 3," to peter out completely. Peter, being a male, obviously.

The band's spooky rendition of Al Green's "I Can't Get Next To You" is startling. Clear and coherent lyrics over the band's occult music leave the listener numb with gummy flesh. Odd Nosdam and Yoni Wolf stop in to help their fellow San Franciscan performers with crunch and crunk production and lighthearted harmonies. From start to finish, the shark circles and the monkey swings. All that's left in the bedroom is shark teeth and ape shit.

1. Monkey Vs. Shark
2. Int 3
3. Phineas Bogg
4. Dutch Slaver
5. I Can't Get Next To You
6. Freshman Remix
7. Deadbeat Water

Most Read