Canada is hot fucking shit right now—there is so much good music here it’s scary. We’ve got everything from the miniature electronic orchestra pop of The Russian Futurists to the confrontational, sometimes bouncy, Tom Waits gone Care Bear music of Arcade Fire. Then there are the super hot bands who haven’t even released a full length yet (keep your eyes peeled for Wolf Parade). So, where does British Columbia’s Black Mountain fit into this landscape?
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about their old rock revival of sorts and how triple band head Stephen McBean doesn’t know where to divide his time (The Black Mountain Army also home to the lesser Jerk With a Bomb and Pink Mountaintops). Out of all of his projects, Black Mountain is hands down the most impressive (although some have cut the band short due to heavy 70’s Zep flashbacks). Those people are dummies—this is not the sound of a band trying to imitate a particular time and place. Sure, the guitars get crunchy and there are drum fills abound, yeah, there’s the eerie atmospherics and group throwdowns. But Black Mountain do it all while retaining a grip on modernity. Their retro sound is steeped in relevancy through a self conscious engagement with old, classic rock. That’s not to say they are a parody pony like The Darkness though; Black Mountain—while naming a song “No Satisfaction” and quipping about ‘modern music’—totally engage those classic sounds in a way that, when listening to the album, doesn’t ignite your powers of musical comparison. When I listen to Black Mountain, I’m listening to Black Mountain, and every band that has influenced them disappears from my mental register. Well, almost. When Black Mountain sound like the Stones it’s tasteful, a tip of the hat if you will. They are the furthest thing from bands like (yep, get ready cause I’m about to do it again) the awful, awful Datsuns.
“Modern Music” kicks things off with a lament against the current musical climate, an issue also visited on “No Hits” which could be the first depressing, druggy, country-rock disco song I’ve ever heard (featuring prominent saxophone). “Don’t Run Our Hearts Around” is the albums barn burner with wicked guitar riffs and eventually a fist waving chorus that vibrates the barroom floor. “Druganaut” was the first song that I head off of the album and is the closest the band gets to the grandeur of Robert Plant and Co. “No Satisfaction” features a piano line and sax and is the most retro infused track on this record, but it is also one of my favorites. “Heart of Snow” is different—very quite and tension building, it’s still a good song but definitely one of the albums weaker moments.
So listen up. If you live outside of this miraculous music kingdom, Black Mountain is some of our best modern Rock and you need this album for the summer. For those of you living in Canada, shame on you if you don’t own it already.
- Andrew Iliadis
/may 15th 2005/