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Black Mountain's debut charts territories yet unknown yet remains grounded by the roots of classic rock 'n' roll (Black Sabbath, The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, "Animals"-era Pink Floyd, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Can). This full-length is one part protest song, one part pop cultural commentary, and one part sick-groove-rock casserole peppered with mesmerizing ballads and intoxicating ditties. Four of the five members work as social workers in Vancouver, so their art, music, and problems of the real world aren't made distinct from one another here. They're also current or former members of The Pink Mountaintops, Blood Meridian, Jerk With A Bomb, The Black Halos, Dream On Dreary, Sinoia Caves, and Orphan. CD includes a video by Heather Trawick for "Druganaut". They'll open for Coldplay in the US this August, followed by headlining dates.
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm not a stoner (anymore), so I'm not accustomed to hearing good stoner music. This self titled debut from Black Mountain is a bluesy, trippy dose of psychedelic/acid rock. It's got some Sabbath in it, some Zeppelin, some Velvet Underground. There's retro guitar work, groovy bass lines, a chunk of kick ass saxaphone playing and some moody, swilrling organ work on this record.
Derivitave? Referential? Yes, but there is enough mojo in their sound to transcend those labels. It is much, much more than the sum of its parts. It is a great rock and roll album. Part of the success of this record is due to the impressive vocals of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber. McBean's deep bluesy voice works well with Webber's smooth but tough pipes. Call me a sicko if you want, but I'd like to hear that woman scream at the top of her lungs.
Is this record worth spending money on? Yes it is. It's a stoner record that even non-stoners can appreciate.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's sort of like listening to [Gasp!] Dark Side of the Moon [though of course I'm not saying they're necessarily musically the same], in that no matter how long the songs are, the entire album captivates you for it's entire duration, and after the last note has played, and the album gracefully ends, you feel like you've really experienced something, something that you don't experience often in music nowadays. You could say that you sort of have to be in the right mood to enjoy music like this, but the results can be pretty spectacular. So, well, I recommend this album to anyone looking for some challenging and intricate music, though sometimes the 6 1/2 minute song lengths aren't completely necessary, it's still a powerful and awesome achievement. 4 stars.
Black Mountain has done this. I don't hear the Sabbath tones others have. It reminds me rather of the eclectic hard rock of the 1970s. While the opening tracks reminded me of Beefheart and Pere Ubu, the album settles into more Crazy Horse territory for much of the length. Neu!, Buffalo Springfield, and the Byrds surface, and early Pink Floyd can be heard later on; the mix of these disparate influences makes for a lovely, unsettling, and restless ambiance. The female vocals appeal far more than the only serviceable male vocals (of the bandleader, of course), however, and this limits the range that this album could have more fully reached. Heart of Snow best shows the harmonious side of the ensemble, and Druganaut their more swaggering manner.
The album works as a succession of moods, and the intelligent if not quite exciting experimentation finds a suitably retro-ish production to match. A problem might be that this is an ensemble more than a fully-fledged band, and the album suffers a bit from a narrower vision of its leader. I believe that if Black Mountain continues, that they will surpass this promising first effort with an amazing follow-up, one or two albums down the line. All of the influences are well-chosen, and the band should integrate them further into their own Northwest blend smoothly.
At first, I just put it in as background music to listen to while I was working. But the next thing I knew, I wasn't able to concentrate on a bloody thing because I was too busy listening! Realize that I do much of my work on my home computer and always have music playing while I do, and rarely--as in, very rarely--does anything distract me from that work. But this album kept hooking me and drawing me in, until finally I just gave up, set the work aside, sat back and let the music do its thing.
I agree with what a lot of the reviewers have said here. Yes, the female vocalist is superb and probably deserves to be featured more prominently. Yes, some of the songs are probably a bit longer than they need to be. Yes, they sound like bits and pieces of other bands.
But even so, this is one of the freshest albums I've heard in awhile, if for no other reason than that they are clearly trying to make something fresh--and that's not an adjective you can use with many bands this group. Each song is different than the one before it, and by the later parts of the album, they sound almost like a completely different band than the one playing the opening tracks.
And for that, I think they deserve a lot of credit.
So, torn between giving them a 4 or 5 stars, I finally went with the 5, mainly for the reason that their effort deserves my vote. To quote another reviewer, these guys are destined to become something great. For the sake of rock, let's hope they do.