Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Led by the husband-and-wife team of Eli Chartkoff on guitar and vocals and Mary Chartkoff on drums, the Monolators are a pop combo who play a revved-up blend of first-generation punk and vintage rock & roll with clever, witty, and heartfelt lyrics to go along with their abundant melodic hooks. Based in Los Angeles, the Chartkoffs formed the Monolators in 2002, with Eli on bass, Michael Dennis on guitar, and Mary on drums; the three met while jamming with a band called the Heinous Brothers, who rehearsed a lot but almost never played out, and the Monolators (originally the Monolators from Lonely 451) were created so they could expose their work to a wider audience. The Monolators recorded their first album, 2003's Rejection Set Me Free, as a trio, but Dennis left the group in 2005, and the band soldiered on as a duo, with Eli moving to guitar. This streamlined lineup recorded the band's second LP, 2006's Our Tears Have Wings, but before long the band expanded to a quartet with the addition of Ray Gurrola on guitar and Ashley Jex on bass. The four-piece Monolators became a draw on the L.A. club circuit, known for their high-energy performances and smart songcraft, as well as winning airplay on a number of leading indie radio outlets in Southern California. The title track from the 2007 EP You Look Good on the Train was named one of the Top 25 songs of the year by LA Weekly, which also named the Monolators one of the area's "Buzz Bands." When the group cut its third full-length album, 2008's Don't Dance, it had expanded to a five-piece with the addition of Jillinda Palmer on keyboards.