catchin' up: Monty Cime's first live album, 'Frida and the Filibusters Bid Farewell and Fall Asunder'

catchin' up: Monty Cime's first live album, 'Frida and the Filibusters Bid Farewell and Fall Asunder'

I interviewed Monty Cime for my newsletter earlier this year, to mark the release of her blazing EP Laurels Of The End of History. Despite its six-song length, Laurels feels sprawling, touching on influences from chamber pop to freak folk to psych rock, with an astonishing number of instruments in the mix. (Cime's credits in the Bandcamp notes are "vocals, lyrics, theatre organ, garifuna drums, wooden frog, bongos, conga, accordion, acoustic guitar, baritone ukulele, autoharp, marimba, electric bass, fretless bass, bedframe, bass drum, cajón, maracas, conch shell."

The lyrical message of Laurels is radically political and politically radical, a worker-centered charge against pushover neoliberalism, always focused on human emotion: "And hope is to love but love isn’t peace / To love is to fight for the life of the deceased" sings Cime on last song "The Lost Last Man."

Laurels of the End of History, by Cime
6 track album

Not content to chill and enjoy her Laurels laurels, Monty Cime has now put out a live album!! Frida and the Filibusters Bid Farewell and Fall Asunder is a recording of Cime's August 2023 performance at FTG Warehouse in Santa Ana, California, featuring songs from Laurels as well as some from previous release The Independence of Central America Remains an Unfinished Experiment.

This live artifact is joyous, angry, messy, and energizing. Cime's seven-piece band crashes through the songs, tying them together with skillful transitions — like the chaotic build + release between "Friends​/​Enemies (Earnest​/​Irony) [Disoluci​ó​n]" and "¡Convicci​ó​n! (Campa​ñ​a Nacional)" — and reminding us that the saxophone (played here by Sean Hoss) is indeed a punk instrument. Cime herself sings with ragged vitality throughout, and employs some top-notch stage banter. "This is real Central American shit," she says midway through a jazz-inflected cover of Honduran artist Guillermo Anderson's "Por Esa Negra." "Now we get to the fusion part...go fuckin' crazy, guys."

I recently read Josh Terry's No Expectations newsletter, in which he wrote about realizing he was wrong about his old opinion that "99% of live albums don't need to exist." He ends the newsletter with this:

"I want more live LPs, from legends and less established artists. If a relative unknown has a killer show, they should flaunt it. I know that streaming has devalued the medium and that it doesn’t make much sense to put resources into releasing a concert recording when it’s tough enough to make a living as a touring artist. However, there is magic in capturing a live performance: you can broadcast your talents and showcase the palpable energy of the songs and the crowd. It should be an aspirational thing for artists to at least want to put on a performance so undeniable you’d want to release it to the world."

Frida and the Filibusters... is a perfect example of a killer show that should be flaunted. It's clear Monty Cime's live operation is on a different level, and I'm so glad that the magic got captured on tape.

Album credits:

Monty Cime - keys/vox
Aron Farkas - drums
Jay Ingram - bass, backing vox
Diego Gonzalez - guitar
Rowan Collins - guitar
Ian Dennis - trumpet, conga, keys
Sean Hoss - alto sax

Mixed by Lautaro Akira Martinez-Satoh and Monty Cime
Mastered by Alma
Album art by Elvie Hepworth

Check out the Monty Cime website here.