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Back to the Future: Black Mountain Revive Stoner Rock; Release Album of the Year

Posted by May 2nd, 2008 No Comments »

Black Mountain – In the Future
Jagjaguwar Records (2008)

If you would have told me six months ago that I’d spend the first half of 2008 gushing over a record steeped in the classic rock sounds of the 70s I would have probably scoffed pretentiously and muttered something about the forthcoming Magnetic Fields album.

Enter In the Future: the sophomore release from Canadian retro-rock revivalists Black Mountain. Ten perfectly executed tracks of booming, intricate rock and spooky folk woven in to a flawless tapestry of awesomeness.

The album opens with the relatively straightforward Zepplin-esque riffage of “Stormy High” and the gorgeously melodic “Angels” before hitting full stride with “Tyrants,” a three-act stoner’s opus.

The band does an excellent job mixing their longer songs (at nearly 8 minutes, “Tyrants” almost feels too short) with shorter tracks (the glam-y “Wild Wind” spans less than 120 seconds), locking the listener in to an always-changing framework upon which they can exercise their astounding musicianship and spaced out vision.

Despite the bong-friendly setting and sometimes longer song lengths, there is no “jam” in this band, however. Everything is carefully constructed and perfectly executed, right down to the howling banshee wails, spooky organ riffs and dead cool male/female vocals from Stephen McBean and Amber Webber.

“Angels” is an instant classic rock radio hit that would fit alongside any of Tom Petty’s best work; “Stay Free” is an acoustic-driven folk-rock beauty and the band’s “Wild Horses” for the new millennium; and “Wucan” is a sexy, yet subdued, psychedelic sing-along.

The album’s most transcendental moment comes on “Queens Will Play,” on which Webber’s ghostly voice carries a four minute organ/guitar dirge through to an epic pay-off. When the drums and second guitar crash in at about 4:20, it’s one of those rare moments in rock – the kind that remind you that maybe, despite everything, things might just be OK after all.

This is what perfection sounds like. – (10/10)

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