Friday, May 28, 2010

The Power and Majesty of Black Mountain

I happened to be in Nashville in 2005 - It was the first time I'd been back to the "Music City" since I'd left half a decade previous. Not a lot had changed with my old group of friends save that one of them had bought into a used record store. Being a music lover and somewhat flush with cash at the time, I went to his shop and dropped a pile of dough. My buddy was my mentor of sorts in the funk arena - I used to sit in on his rare breaks radio show at the Vanderbilt college station. Remembering his vast knowledge of music, I asked him to recommend his favorite new picks.

That's when Black Mountain first came to my attention. This one moved quickly to the top of the pile. I liked it the first time, but each time I listened its depth and power grew. At the time I described it as heavy Black Sabbath licks with some King Crimson thrown in, but in the ensuing years their music has generated sub-genre tags like "new prog" and "stoner rock". I really liked it and everybody I turned on liked it too. Well, when their next album was announced, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. You know - the dreaded "sophomore slump".
video for "Set us Free"
video for "Druganaut"
Of course I bought "In the Future" immediately. The epic, double length album was the the rare exception, even better than the first rate debut. Black Mountain took their lengthy jams from the first LP and made them even longer - a risky prospect at best - and found a rich vein in which to mine millions of fans. Soon this small art and music collective from Vancouver were jetting around the world playing huge festivals, legendary venues, and TV shows like Conan O'Brien. Against the odds, their individualistic re-invention of psychedelic rock caught on. Yes, they really are that good.

live cut - "Wucan"
live cut - "Queens will Play"

live cut - "Stormy High"
Pictures of Black Mountain at the Troubador from L.A. Weekly online
Needless to say, when I heard they were coming to The Troubador in Hollywood shortly after "In the Future" was released, my tickets were reserved post haste. I talked a few friends into joining me (this was before Black Mountain's assent into one of the world's "in demand" live bands) and I was off to the races. The show had been sold out for weeks and the joint was packed. I noticed a lot of power players in the room - Shooter Jennings and Drea DeMatteo at the bar, Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes lurking near the stage, and one of the Gallagher brothers upstairs. Hell, Rick Rubin was standing right next to me.

At that moment I realized the word was out on Black Mountain. It felt good that this band I dug so much was well liked by the "important" industry players. Then the band came on stage and showed me why. It was a great show - the best I saw that year. Looking back, I feel lucky that I was there that night. I guess I have my old friend to thank for letting me in on this group so early in the game. If it wasn't for his recommendation I wouldn't have seen that show. If you haven't heard of them, watch these videos and see what you think. You might thank me later.

Oh yeah - when Black Mountain's new record hits the streets be sure to pick it up from my friend Doyle "D-Funk" Davis over at Grimey's new and preloved music in Nashville. I'm sure he'll thank you -
this guy knows his Moog
they came to play
an appreciative crowd at the Troub
Amber Webber
Druganaut EP and publicity photo
interview footage

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