Archive for Lightning Dust

On Black Mountain’s “IV”, The Unexpected Ingredient Is Sincerity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 12, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Since Black Mountain’s eponymous debut in 2005, followed one year later by Pink Mountaintops’ maiden voyage, we’ve viewed both of Stephen McBean’s vehicles as tandem expressions of his already heterodox talents.  The influences on his songwriting apparent early on included Modern Dance-era Pere Ubu, New York’s No Wave bands, and when he and Amber Weber sang a duet on “Druganaut,” it sounded much more like Sly and The Family Stone than X, which was interesting.  The homages to Led Zeppelin, the cheesy Deep Purple keyboards, the clear reference to Station To Station-era Bowie: it soon all added up to a dazzling porridge, heavy and melodic at the same time, with deadly seriousness offset by antic glimpses.  Black Mountain could — and on the great Wilderness Heart did — play proto-metal and punk, back to back.  And with other band members launching such disparate vehicles as Lightning Dust and Blood Meridien, the Black Mountain Army was seemingly as potent a force in modern music as the Elephant Six Collective.

But even with certain surface charms, 2014’s Pink Mountaintops album, Get Back, was a turnoff.  Suddenly it triggered, at least in Tulip Frenzy’s World HQ, a reassessment, as it rendered McBean’s magpie plucking of influences suspect.  We wondered who the real McBean was: the distant bandleader launching his attack from Vancouver, or one more cool cat taking on the world from L.A.?  With only their fourth album in 11 years, we now have the answer, at least from Black Mountain: IV is their best full album since they took their name from the large pile of Afghani sitting on the table in front of them.

Even their naming convention is a reminder of the influence of Zep, but on IV, the seemingly biggest influences on McBean and company is their own prior work, as a band and an aggregation of the sister bands.  “You Can Dream” sounds like something Lightning Dust would play at Edinburgh Castle.  The opener, “Mothers Of The Sun,” is their best long-form construction since “Bastards Of Light.”  The combination of McBean and Weber has never sounded stronger, and on a song like “Constellations,” you have all of Black Mountain’s charms in one interplanetary locus.  After the last ersatz and kitschy Pink Mountaintops outing, McBean returns with something that sounds, dare we say it, sincere.

All is forgiven.  Black Mountain’s fourth record is their best yet.

Pink Mountaintops “Ambulance City” Is Song Of The Year

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on April 26, 2014 by johnbuckley100

We have only to wait until Tuesday to get our mitts — our ears — our ear mitts? — on Pink Mountaintops’ Get Back.  But just from what’s been released so far, we know this is going to be one of the highlights of the year.  “Ambulance City” may be the finest rocker yet released by any unit of Stephen McBean’s Black Mountain Army — and represents a return of Pink Mountaintops to the upbeat rocking form present on 2006’s Axis of Evol, partly missing on 2009’s Outside Love.  Powered by Brian Jonestown Massacre nuclear instigator Daniel Allaire on drums, both “Ambulance City” and the hilarious “North Hollywood Microwaves” rock harder than anything we’ve yet heard from HQ-band Black Mountain, nor any of its lethal units, Blood Meridian, Lightning Dust, etc.  Tulip Frenzy thinks we will declare a holiday Tuesday, and just reach for our headphones.

The Forthcoming Delight Of Black Mountain’s “Wilderness Heart”

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on August 20, 2010 by johnbuckley100

In the last 12 months, Black Mountain has made moves toward world domination mostly through the cosmically odd use of “Druganaut” in an ad for the Buick Lacrosse (see Tulip Frenzy’s writeup here.)  I guess last year was The Pink Mountaintops’ turn, though it was disappointing that we don’t seem to have anything new from other Black Mountain offshoots such as Blood Meridian or Lightning Dust.

Then in late July we got the gloriously sleazy single “Old Fang,” with its Deep Purple organ and video of Stephen McBean riding shotgun in an early ’70s Mustang as a Susan Atkins-type hippie vixen hitchhiker lures him to her psychedelic lair.  “Old Fang” could have been the #1 song on WBCN circa 1972, and Black Mountain would have been headliners at Watkins Glen or something. In 2010, it comes off as an absolutely pitch perfect slice o’ mid-Nixon grunge.

The release of “The Hair Song” on their MySpace page gives a further indication of where the forthcoming Wilderness Heart is heading — the purest homage to Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and the boys, replete with “Kashmir” strings — this side of Lez Zeppelin. Get ready.  September 14th release date.

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