With just under 1,500 streams on Spotify, gigs across the tri-state area lined-up for the next year and an EP dropping at the beginning of June, Sarah Hartstein, Johnny Lu and Nick Pappalardo, better known as monarch, are taking over the Hudson Valley by an aggressive, whirlwind force.
Having only formed less than a year ago, the immense progress that they’ve made is particularly impressive. Shortly after releasing their first single, “Faces in Crowded Places,” the trio was featured on a playlist titled “Discover: Indie Rising,” which highlights up-and-coming alt bands and their original music. This widened their fanbase way beyond the confines of New York, stretching as far as Dayton, Ohio and even to a few people in Egypt.
“Faces in Crowded Places we wrote in a day, Johnny and I, and then recorded it the next,” says Hartstein. “I would like to take this band as far as it can go; I don’t do anything half-a**ed. I can be a little controlling, in a good way though because I keep everyone on track.” Thank God she does, too. Normally, it takes three month to record, produce and release a singular track, but due to Hartsteins brains, Lu’s creativity and Pappalardo’s talent, they shortened that process down to a singular day. Impressed yet?
Their goal for the EP drop is to officially break away from their past cover shows. “Our first couple of shows were strictly covers, because most of our originals weren’t well-enough practiced to perform since we wrote them in-studio, but I can’t stand doing covers. I would literally rather die than do only covers.” While everyone else has been sleeping, monarch has been in their cocoon, having photoshoots, designing merch and writing original songs, just waiting for the perfect time to metamorphosize.
The songs that we should expect to hear on the EP are a collaboration of Hartsein’s lyrics and melodies over Lu’s beat, with notes of pop-punk and rock, a splash of indie and just a dash of jazz. Hartstein, who mostly writes about relationships and strong emotions, tries to embody other female artists who share her sensual, intoxicating voice, like Amy Winehouse or Faye Webster. On stage, however, she is unapologetically and enthusiastically herself, just like the rest of her bandmates. Their next New Paltz gig is at Bacchus Restaurant, Brewery & Billiards on April 29, and a single is due to release on May 27. Make sure you pop by and give it a listen; I guarantee that you’ll be able to say you “knew them when.”