On the Fall leg of Jars Of Clay's 2006 Good Monsters Tour, the band teamed up with PreSonus to provide them
with a 24-mic live recording setup to create the Live Monsters EP. The seven-track Live Monsters is just a piece of
the band's 2006/2007 live performances, featuring not only some of their most aggressive music to date but also six of the twelve tracks
featured on their most recent studio album, Good Monsters, in live form.
In 2002, the band made their feature-length live video debut with 11 Live and followed it up in 2003 with the half-live, half-studio
audio phenomenon Furthermore. The two-dozen microphone audio setup used for Live Monsters gives the listener an in-the-audience
feel with immense clarity and a fantastic live experience that showcases the band's incredible musical capabilities. From the harmonies to
the impressive guitar work from Steve Mason and Matt Odmark, everything is captured with near immaculate clarity leaving the only problem
with Live Monsters being that it's only seven tracks long (despite clocking in at just over thirty four minutes, which is actually longer than some artists'
studio albums these days).
If you attended a Jars show in the Fall of 2006 or get to one sometime this year, you're likely to hear any or all of the songs featured
on Live Monsters. Besides capturing the raw rock energy of the passionate "Work," the pop sensibility of their recent hit "Dead Man (Carry Me),"
and the emotional, epic display of the powerful ballad "Oh My God," the project features a live rendition of the Good Monsters b-side
"Love Me," which was previously only available in studio form as part of an iTunes-only downloadable EP. The wonderful live collection
closes with the Africa crisis inspired "Light Gives Heat," a song the band has been closing each show with recently.
There's little to complain about with the near-perfectly composed Live Monsters. At the five dollar cost the foursome is
charging at their live shows, one might expect a half-hearted, rough bootleg, but instead Live Monsters is as professional in sound
and execution as it gets. Hopefully we can expect more projects like this to get a wider release from Jars in the near future.
- Review date: 4/15/07, written by John DiBiase