Elliott Brood “Mountain Meadows” (Six Shooter Records, 2008)
The hills are alive with the sound of music
After the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir’s brimstone had stripped all of the wax from my ears and the paint from my walls, along come fellow Canadians to finish the job. They’re as spirited as AMGC but nowhere near as abrasive. They’ve been civilised some, though a dark heart still beats. The record is split into four sections, each with its own particular style: section one, especially ‘T-Bill’ is a kind of cross of Arcade Fire and Califone, so an earthy broken-down mini orchestra building and breaking waves of music, the ebb and flow like clouds travelling across a windswept sky. Section two screams Uncle Tupelo to me, in a very convincing way but derivative nonetheless.
The third section is where it gets really interesting - it is as though Nick Cave had suddenly wanted to become Sufjan Stevens. Notably ‘Notes’ is typical of a more reflective side, with a gentle strum of banjo the first shoots of lush. ‘Woodward Avenue’ moves even nearer to the looping minimalism with layers of piano, guitar and maybe even brass; add an organ building a wall around the rough hewn vocal and you get quite a homestead of song. The aggressive instrumental ‘Chuckwagon’ starts the handover to section four, the elegy. A melancholic meditative ‘The Body’ has vocals that are stripped of any harshness; they float on the fluid drift of the music which is an acoustic strum, a kind of a coda with a wordless voice crooning a lullaby. The closing ‘Miss You Now’ has the same kind of vulnerability and muscle that Frightened Rabbit do so well (the Proclaimers mated with Buffalo Tom).
On first listen I mistakenly thought that it wasn’t as impressive as their debut. Now I’m thinking that it surpasses the earlier effort it is one of those records that reveals more with every listen.
Date review added: Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Reviewer: David Cowling
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