In recent years, Southern California has proved to be fertile ground for heavy psych, prog, and free rock. The amount of excellent bands growing out of the San Diego soil is simply unparalleled. Among the youngest generation of these bands are the five-piece Monarch, a band rooted in psychedelia and experimental prog, with a view towards broader horizons. There's something refreshing about Monarch's take on psychedelic rock: they aren't afraid to weave Allman Brothers-esque dual guitar lines with synthesizers and saxophone. They can be heavy, but there's an unmistakable panoramic quality to their compositions too, reflecting the rich and diverse environment they've grown up in, with dazzling pacific coastlines, mountains and desert highways. Compared to their debut album, Two Isles from 2016 (EPR 035CD/LP), Beyond The Blue Sky is a more complex record. The three-year journey has led the band through several separate recording sessions and ended up going all-analogue at Audio Design studios. It's an album that's meticulously crafted and with sights set on new musical territory. Their songwriting has matured and each track feels like a mini-epic, traveling unexpected routes before reaching their sonic destination. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the album's centerpiece, the three-part "Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart", where Monarch manages to fuse all their influences into one mammoth composition. It's an album to drive off into a careless summer sunset and beyond.