By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Bay Area funk institution for over a decade, Monophonics has gradually evolved to become one of San Francisco’s most creative purveyors of psychedelic soul. Founded by drummer Austin Bolman in 2005, the quintet initially mined a vein of instrumental jazz-funk similar to boogaloo revivalists The Sugarman 3, Soulive, and the Greyboy Allstars — whose saxophonist, Karl Denson, guested on the crew’s 2010 album Into the Infrasounds.
The group’s third album, 2012’s In Your Brain, showed the results of what sounded like the members of Monophonics doing some serious “woodshedding” in the Temptations’ “Psychedelic Shack.” Introducing a fuzzed-out guitar sound soaked in Echoplex delay, tunes like “Sure Is Funky,” “All Together,” and the title track were reminiscent of the acid-laced grooves of early Funkadelic and noted Motown producer Norman Whitfield’s most tripped-out creations with the Temps and Edwin Starr.
The album also featured a stellar cover of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” that holds its own against the timeless Nancy Sinatra and Terry Reid versions of the Sonny Bono-penned classic and pointed towards the next turn the band’s sound would take. While still steeped in the ’60s sound, the band’s latest recording, Sound of Sinning, embraces a different side of the psychedelic era.
Without abandoning distorted guitars and funk breaks altogether, the new Monophonics album offers up intricate orchestrations and slow-burn balladry that nod equally to the lush chamber pop of the Beach Boys and the Zombies. In 2015, the band delivered a fiery set on the main Banjo Stage for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival that was a highlight of the Friday performances. Last year, the group was a featured act at BottleRock in Napa. The band headlines at the Independent Thursday night, previewing some of the songs it will soon be releasing on its forthcoming EP Mirrors, a collection of well-known and obscure covers. Local rock outfit Hibbity Dibbity and noted DJ/producer Amerigo Gazaway (the man behind the noted mash-up collections Fela Soul, Yasiin Gaye and B.B. and the Underground Kingz).
Thursday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. $22-$25