Monday, 27 September 2010

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwer)

Surely one of the best things to come out of Canada this year landed in my email inbox in the last month. The musical revelation that has adorned me and has made me apoplectic with happiness is the third album by the wonderful Vancouver outfit ‘Black Mountain’ entitled ‘Wilderness Heart’. If you find yourself to be a disgruntled classic rock fan that has a distinct passion for psychedelia that is largely unimpressed by offerings from new bands, I implore you to give this band a go.

The first track, the amusingly titled ‘The Hair Song’ is one of the best starts to an album that I have come across in a while. The song presents us with a great advertisement of what the rest of the album is going to be like. You have a variety of musical talent on show from the sumptuously balance male and female vocals to the intermingling of the guitar, drum and organ sounds that resonates throughout the song to a fantastic effect.

As soon as ‘Old Fangs’ kicks into life you can feel the pulse that is being to flex through the beat and melody and like a natural bodily instinct, you begin to get ready to hear a great rock song and you do not leave this track disappointed. Even though you are only on the beginning of your journey through this album, you cannot help but realise you have stumbled on something special, a band certainly that needs to be taken notice of and taken seriously.

Track 3, ‘Radiant Hearts’ changes tack and mellows you out in a way that only a fine acoustic number can ascertain. In fact, you can be forgiven at the start of the song for believing you were listening to a sample from electro maestros Goldfrapp. The song ebbs and flows in all the right directions and you can’t help but also pick out a slight White Stripes influence creeping under the surface.

Rollercoaster’ and ‘Let Spirit’s Ride’ perfectly compliment each other. The former allows the band to showcase their zest for the Blues and their ability to make the listener really enjoy them ply their trade before setting them up for a classic heavy metal track which would not sound out of place on an eponymous Iron Maiden album during the 80s. Although this song may be considered cheesy to many a connoisseur, I believe it to be an apt homage, a doffing of the cap to a musical genre that definitely deserves more recognition of the talent within.

The sixth track ‘Buried by the Blues' perfectly bookends the previous track as we are given another great acoustic tune that is barbed perfectly with a twinge of Blues.

As soon as the tremelo hits on ‘The Way To Gone’ you know you are going to be in for a treat in the form of this track that tips it’s hat to the American Outlaw songs of the past, especially those who look fondly on Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory. It is yet another very satisfying offering from this band who continues to impress musically with consummate ease. Just like earlier, this raw track acts like a pre-empt to a much fast paced contribution in the form of the title track ‘Wilderness Heart’. If ever there was a genre labelled ‘tracks that would sound amazing live and I challenge you not to nod your head to’ this would be it.

‘The Space Of Your Mind’ mellows the album out once again and the vocals are used to a soothing effect as they are underpinned by an infectious guitar melody. For some reason, this track reminds me of ‘Pigs On a Wing’ from Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ album. As a hardened Floyd fan, this makes this track all the more enjoyable.

The album bows out most gracefully with dreamlike tune entitled ‘Sadie’. Just like the beginning of the album is perfect indication of what’s to come, this song acts as a very fitting conclusion to what has been a great journey with a superbly talented band. As a reviewer, I find myself increasingly harder to impress with every piece of music I encounter but I can say without a doubt, that this album is one of my favourites of this year. One phrase; “Relax and Enjoy”.

Words : Barclay Quarton

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