Black Mountain and The Cave Singers: get ready for retro. - Oh My Rockness

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Black Mountain and The Cave Singers: get ready for retro.

October 9, 2007
Black Mountain are another sprawling Canadian group that somehow got classified as an art "collective" (see Broken Social Scene, Godspeed). These guys make music that's certainly not limited to their cozy Vancouver confines: this is all over the map.

To call Black Mountain eclectic is an understatement. More like eclec-wait-what-huh-oh!-tic. Their sound encompasses and throws around a whole mess of retro styles; the psych-rock of Pink Floyd, the experimental noodlings of Can, the classic riffage of Black Sabbath and Zeppelin. Oh, and throw some good old fashioned gospel in there, too.

Black Mountain's songs fly around, fueled by sax grooves, choppy power chords and throbbing dance beats, all played under a low-lying haze. Sometimes this band's insistence on a bunch of sonic genre shifts can be exhilarating if you allow yourself to go with the flow and listen without expectations. At other times, they can become a frustrating listening experience if you can't, or don't want to, keep up with all their sonic zig-zags. To each his own.

Seriously, some of Black Mountain's songs are short, some are really long, some sound like church, and some sound like Les Savy Fav. See what I mean?

Luckily, when you're labeled a "collective," you're given the license to rock out to any and all definable genres and no one can tell you otherwise. Really, you can't talk or write about the music Black Mountain makes anyway. You just sort of have to listen to it and decide if you're into it.

Playing with Black Mountain is the fairly new group, The Cave Singers. Though this Seattle crew features former members of such luminous rock bands as Pretty Girls Make Graves, Murder City Devils and Cobra High, this is definitely not some sort of post-punk outfit. Not even close.

The members have traded ferocious riffs for gentle finger-plucks, wails for soft warbles. The Cave Singers play straight-up folk that's been warped to 2007 straight from 1971 (give or take a year or two). This band makes beautifully anguished acoustic music that has been compared to work of Arlo Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt and Fleetwood Mac (singer Peter Quirk sure does sound a lot like Stevie Nicks sometimes).

The band writes nice, peaceful sweet songs that are best when accompanied by campfire drinking or The Wonder Years re-runs. The Cave Singers are quickly building steam, too. They're mighty Matador Records' most recent signing and the band has recently pulled off packed shows with Black Mountain and Lightning Dust. This is really good stuff.

Black Mountain and The Cave Singers play The Echo, on Tuesday, October 23rd.


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