Tulip Frenzy’s #6 Best Album of 2010: Black Mountain’s “Wilderness Heart”

Black Mountain has come a long way since Stephen McBean allegedly named the band for the stash of Afghani piled high on the table in front of him.  While their early sound owed much to No Wave bands and Pere Ubu, and while McBean’s protean songwriting takes on so many shapes he has to channel different songs between Black Mountain and the Pink Mountaintops, what they’ve grown into is a classic, early ’70s album-rock band with strains of metal and folk and punk.  It’s a pretty great combination, and when Wilderness Heart was released Tulip Frenzy rejoiced.  We like the formula — Seconal riffs followed by Sandy Denny folk followed by real rock’n’roll — and we like McBean, who is shaping up to be one of the most interesting figures in rock.  We love Amber Webber’s ululations, and whether it’s pounding out riffs in Black Mountain, or plying the B.C. villages with the Canadian equivalent of Americana with their band Blood Meridian, we have a soft spot for the immensely talented Matt Camirand (bass) and Joshua Wells (drummer extraordinaire.)  The novelty of Jeremy Schmidt’s greasy organ riffs in no small part make the band, but since we weren’t Deep Purple fans the first time round, there’s no reason to start being one now.  Still, the way these guys can settle into a groove on stage, and he breadth of McBean’s talents, make us fear the next time we have an opportunity to see them will be in a venue far larger than the 930 Club.  We admire them, and wish them well, even as we fear we’re losing them.

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