Thursday, June 2, 2011

Across Tundras - "Sage" (2011) [Neurot Recordings]

It's about damn time Neurot Reordings picked up Across Tundras. I've been referring to these fine folks as "Cowboy Neurosis" since Dark Songs of the Prairie came out in 2006...not to mention they've self-released everything after 2008's Western Sky Ride, so it was only a matter of time before the mighty bearded gods at Neurot shone their graces upon this prolific Nashville trio.

Fronted by South Dakota transplant Tanner Olson, formerly of post-hardcore/sludge band Examination Of The..., Across Tundras has put out at least one release a year since the Divides EP in 2005, each ranging from "cowboy folk" to Neil Young-influenced psychedelic jams to spaced-out atmospheric sludge, all the while pushing the boundaries and crafting unique, memorable tunes.

Sage is Across Tundras's most recent album,  released a mere few weeks ago, and is by far their strongest work yet. While each album leading up to this point was awesome in its own right, Sage proves to be their most concentrated and inspired work; something that comes with a mostly stable lineup for the past six years. One of my favorite aspects of Across Tundras's music is the very "green" feel of the music, which is something that is very much overlooked with the whole "we're out west with the cowboys" sort of movement that's been going on. Herding cattle meant riding for weeks on end through the mountains, which were definitely lush and full of plant life. Not to knock Cormac McCarthy (props to my literary homie) and his fans, but just because they're"out west" doesn't mean that everything is dry, sandy, and dead, and it seems a lot of bands forgot that. Luckily, Across Tundras has grasped this wondrous notion and presents something organic and lively whilst still retaining that "western" vibe that they have perfected.

As expected, Sage is a strong offering from the Across Tundras camp, who are still furthering a sound that has always been theirs. I, for one, am more than content with seeing them joining the ranks of Neurosis, USX, Harvestman and more on Neurot Recordings. I'd recommend committing a minor legal offense in your bedroom, turning a cowboy movie on mute, and spinning Sage while drifting into the hazy abyss.


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