Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Take A Trip To The Wilderness With Black Mountain

Black MountainIn 2004, the indie rock label Jagjaguwar signed a Canadian psychedelic rock band for an EP release that added two bonus tracks to a 12-inch single. An album followed that appealed to critics, but only received a lukewarm reception among a fans.

It would be three long years before the band would put out another EP after the immediate success of Stay Free from the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack. It also received nods from Canadian music circles, but didn't resonate too much beyond the Great White North.

Wilderness Heart is different. As a follow-up that took half the time, it sounds twice as good. While the band has a sound still reminiscent of the seventies, the lyrics seem more tuned to today. The entire album has more energy behind it.

Wilderness Heart Is A Trip Worth Taking.

Black Mountain consists of Stephen McBean (guitar and vocals), Amber Webber (vocals), Matt Camirand (bass), Jeremy Schmidt (keyboards), and Josh Wells (drums and keys). Throughout the album, McBean and Webber tag team as lead singers and offer up some duets.

Webber isn't nearly as powerful a singer as McBean; she's more weary than wild. And with the possible exception of Old Fangs, she tends to fit in best as a contrast to the voice that wakes you up. McBean is well known for his smoky vocals that front this band, the more experimental The Pink Mountaintops, and other projects.

All in all, If anyone was wondering what album would help Black Mountain find its groove, Wilderness Heart is it, especially on tracks like The Hair Song.

Adding to these upbeat semi-retro riffs, Old Fangs, The Way To Gone, Rollercoaster, and the title track, Wilderness Heart, all have something to offer. So do the closers.

The Space Of Your Mind and Sadie both take advantage of McBean's brooding voice, set against plush jams and darker notes. Skip Radiant Hearts unless you buy the album for the The Hair Song remix, which might be worth it.

All in all, Black Mountain has progressed nicely, perhaps even borrowing from their experiences with varied ventures, all with unique sounds. Wilderness Heart borrows much more of what works with a little less Sabbath and a little more Zeppelin without taking anything too seriously. McBean roughly described the album as folk metal before it came out.

Wilderness Heart By Black Mountain Trips With A 7.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

On that note, when critics sometimes review Black Mountain, they forget this frontman isn't so serious. When Black Mountain first started, many people associated it with being the front band for the Black Mountain Army.

While the "army" idea took off as "a collective of musicians," McBean later said it started as a joke. The "army" wasn't much more than all his musician friends in Vancouver. McBean just wants to have a good time. He has the right people with him to do it.

Wilderness Heart is available on iTunes. You can also find Wilderness Heart (with a digital booklet) on Amazon.

Black Mountain currently has its Website set to its Facebook page. If you see a shark, you've found it.
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