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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


who's gonna light up your dark

 live - songs from black mountain

my relationship with this band over the past twelve years has been interesting. i've enjoyed them because i dig (some of) their songwriting, ed kowalczyk's vocals, their fierce guitar and drums... like everyone else, my ears perked up at throwing copper in '94 (there's another one), but more for all over you and stage and white, discussion than i alone or lightning crashes (which i still skip past). it was a little bit deeper and more thoughtful than most of the other alt-rock bands i was into, and 95% of the tracks on the disc were solid.

then we got secret samadhi in '97, with some of their best tracks and some of their worst at the same time. i still think lakini's juice is one of the best pop-rock songs of the 90's - a bold rhythm, incredible vocals, it still grabs me every time i listen to it. heropsychodreamer and freaks are also among their best material. unfortunately it also sports the most cringe-worthy lyrics of all their albums... the first lines off the first track, rattlesnake, include "let's go hang out in a church / we'll go find lurch" and "is it money, is it fame / what's in a name / shame / is it money, is it fame / or were they always this lame". indeed.

i liked the darker mood of the disc, but the miserable writing that turned me off, combined with my "only punk rock is worth listening to" phase from'98 to 2000 made me miss the distance to here. i've still never picked it up.

come 2001 they were about to release ecstatic fanatic (which got renamed to V), and they posted a bunch of prerelease clips of songs to the web - something you didn't see much back then. intrigued, i took a listen and was surprised at their change in tone - a lot more effects than simple guitar/bass/drums. i ended up picking up the disc, but like lightning crashes, most of it was just too melodramatic. it's a shining example of what overproducing a record can sound like - it ended up just being goofy and silly for the duration.

somewhere between V and 2003 they figured out the magical formula to make all of their songs sound poppy and relatively similar - nickelback style - and birds of pray was the result. i liked almost everything on the disc, although it's a little watered down, so it's kind of a guilty pleasure.

so how does songs from black mountain stack up? they stuck with the formula from birds, really, but their lyrical content continues to shift to more optimistic, spiritual themes, stuff about how Ed loves his daughters, etc... someone who'd never heard the band would probably pick up the disc and think "hmm, fairly generic rock band, good enough to spin a few times"... but knowing what their potential is from copper, and how much they've matured as a group, you think, if they didn't try to make a mass-produced rock album - and instead tried to wring every ounce of creativity out of themselves - they could drop a tommy or a physical graffiti. here's hoping they go in that direction someday. so should you get it? if you're a diehard fan, you'll enjoy it, otherwise, there isn't much spectacular on the disc worth getting excited about.


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Blogger ryanham Says:

tommy? TOMMY?!? I think not.

You've offically gone insane. It must have been the humiliation of losing to your wife in Lego Star Wars.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

they have the talent and, if focused, the songwriting ability. with the right producer, they could pull it off.


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