In a fairly embarassing chain of events, I initially submitted this to M. Matos at Seattle Weekly; he politely informed me that he'd already run a review of the thing. Indeed, Jessica Hopper's review appeared several months before; it's far more informative than mine, but the musical effects to which she devotes so much detail are really not all that interesting. So then I sent it off to Chuck at the Village Voice; he politely informed me that Frank Kogan's review was appearing online as we emailed. As with most of his writing, Frank's review gets to the heart of the musical matter well and offers a closer musical analysis than mine; I didn't think the CD was worth much more than some drug jokes. I haven't yet brought myself to go back and listen to the two tunes cited in the Kogan review, but I sure didn't notice them the first three or four times. Anyway, I've submitted it to a third outlet, but haven't heard anything back yet. Looks like it'll live here. (That whole explanation may be better than the review, if only for the links.)
The Black Mountain credits thank “members of the Black Mountain Army,” which is funny because, dude, that’s gotta be one seriously stoned fuckin’ army. Listening to Black Mountain is like enlisting with the Swiss, whose latest model Army Knife includes a killer flashlight, as they take off the month of August to hang with their buds in Amsterdam--these Canuck guys/gal are totally Euro when it comes to their blues-psych. Don’t get me wrong, they can play loud and heavy, but mostly the BMs drift from riff to riff, firing one off and watching amused to see where it’ll land. The most concise song lays out an appealing twang-piano gallop to back up its Westerbergian refrain of “I can’t get no satisfaction.” The next most focused is the floppy soul single “Druganaut,” whose brilliant lyrics include “Are you freedom, man? We’re young and fast/ lighting up the sky.” I like to imagine mopey NASA engineers reciting those lines into their Scotch. The other tunes are decidedly Unfocused, which isn’t to say “Bad,” at least not for the first half; and even when the band runs out of ideas halfway through and you stop paying attention, the music remains an inoffensive backdrop to foraging for food or waiting for a man.