Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pink Mountaintops Get McBean Back

Stephen McBean
There have always been two sides to Stephen McBean. There is his psychedelic rock side with Black Mountain. And then there is his hypnotic lo-fi collaborative solo work with Pink Mountaintops.

The music might be different, but the consensus is the same. McBean does some dynamite stuff with sound. Get Back is an especially spirited post-punk eighties rock outing that becomes increasingly messy and addictive as it progresses.

Noisily nostalgic and classically anthemic. 

Whereas Pink Mountaintops sometimes comes across as a cast-off side project, Get Back is different. It is a formidable album, one that eclipses anything he has done in terms of electricity. It doesn't hurt that McBean has assembled an equally electric slate of guests to pull it off.

Just a handful of rotating names include J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Rob Barbato (The Fall), Steve Kille (Dead Meadow), Daniel Allaire (Brian Jonestown Massacre), and Gregg Foreman (Cat Power). In the studio, he recruited Randal Dunn to mix it and Howie Weinburg to master it.

The result is an off-center and cantankerous exploration, opening with the shred-heavy Ambulance City. The music feels even more unsettling while watching the video directed by Oilvia Jaffe.

Mostly, Ambulance City is a near nonsense lyrical time warp that would fit nicely in any modern reprisal of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The video was also the second released after the lukewarm reception of the grossly underrated North Hollywood Microwaves, mostly because of the exploitive second half.

Sure, Annie Hardy belts out enough lyrical filth to make Williams S. Burroughs blush against the backdrop of saxophone dips and guitar wags. Some critics argue it would have been better served clipped. Musically, probably. Artistically, not so much. It's meant to be a wreck. Mission accomplished.

Less overt is the VHS saturated The Second Summer Of Love, where McBean wonders how he could have survived all those glorious moments as a kid growing up in the eighties. And yet, he not only misses it but also wonders whether youth today even know what they are missing.

McBean channels the music of his youth Through All The Worry, which breaks down what the album is really about. It's about realizing you can't get the years back that you lost, and the irony that no one even appreciates those golden years when they are living them right now.

And while that might be the sentiment, but McBean does bring back those years musically, even if he reimagines it through the imperfect lens of his memory. Still, in listening to the album several times, he doesn't really tell it all through the lens of a 45-year-old looking back in time. Much of the the metaphors are made with a teen-like zeal.

Other standouts to listen to include the rustic and insistent Wheels, the lazy lounge lament Sell Your Soul, and the sixties-revue-through-an-eighties-lens sound of Sixteen. Combined, McBean masters why rock is entirely impossible to define because it rolls along with the times.

Get Back By Pink Mountaintops Climbs 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Whether you consider it a second adolescence or a middle-age grab at the past, there is something immediately classic about Get Back in the way it gives a nod to nostalgia while being entirely free spirited in how those nods are made for today. At times, Get Back is frightfully familiar while obviously repurposed for today.

You can find Get Back by Pink Mountaintops on Amazon or download the album from iTunes. The LP, Get Back by Pink Mountaintops, is also available on Barnes & Noble. The band is currently touring and its schedule is listed on Facebook. Maybe what makes it all work is that McBean found inspiration when Joe Cardamone told him to sing it all like he was 21.
blog comments powered by Disqus