Black Mountain, “Black Mountain” (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Black_Mountain-2005-Self-TitledBlack Mountain
Black Mountain (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
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Original Album: 8/10
Bonus Materials: 6/10

The members of Vancouver alt-rock quintet Black Mountain shuffled their efforts between a handful of bands in the early 2000s, releasing solid psych- and space-rock albums under a variety of names. Their debut as Black Mountain was released in 2005—only months after the band’s singer/bandleader Stephen McBean issued his own glossy and experimental debut as Pink Mountaintops—and the LP’s bluesy and soulful rock sound came from scrapped sessions for a fourth album by Jerk With a Bomb, the former band of McBean and drummer Joshua Wells. Black Mountain rose from the amalgamated efforts of this inventive collective and became a staple in the indie-rock realm.

Hopefully, this meticulous and sharp-sounding repacking for Black Mountain’s tin anniversary (that’s ten years, folks) will find new fans for the underrated Canadian group. Black Mountain’s love for old school rock tropes and its jam band tendencies lend its debut a protective and timeless aura. Album opener “Modern Music”—which includes an exceptional upbeat saxophone line—finds McBean and bandmate Amber Webber experimenting with classic melodies and solid riffs, while taking a stand against “another pop explosion.” Ten years on, Black Mountain still yields fresh excitements, including the way that “Don’t Run Our Hearts Around” and “Heart of Snow” initially make McBean and co. seem like simple Zeppelin worshippers—until they begin to explode and contract in strange and exciting ways.

The bonus material on this deluxe edition ranges from demos and extended remixes to UK radio live takes. Listening to these additional tracks is like unearthing a lost album’s worth of material with varying merits. The real draw is, and will always be, Black Mountain’s original eight tracks, which still stand up to scrutiny a decade later.

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