Friday, June 17, 2011

Mount Moriah - "Mount Moriah" (2011) [Holidays for Quince]

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret of mine: I love country music. Well, not country, but a small sub-genre called "alt-country," short for "alternative country." Hank Williams III, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and The Avett Brothers; if you take away the accent and songs about losing your truck, your dog or your beer, I'm totally down. No Keith Urban or Brad Paisley for this guy. So, needless to say, I absolutely love love love North Carolina band Mount Moriah's first full-length, out now on Holidays for Quince records.

Being raised on my mom's obsession with Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" LP, I can't help but get all nostalgic when listening to Jenks Miller's (yes, Jenks Miller from, right?) Lindsey Buckingham-esque guitar work sprinkled all over this album. Memories of long car rides to Nebraska (there were many of those), Texas, North Carolina, Ohio; back when things were simpler. No school worries during the summer, no money worries; I was just a kid on a road trip with his family. Albums like this always hit me right where I need it and it is absolutely perfect.

But enough about me, the music itself is absolutely gorgeous. Singer Heather McEntire's strong, resolute voice exudes emotion, whether fierce (like in "Lament") or fragile and full of longing (like in the beautiful ballad "Old Gowns"). Nothing seems out of place or forced with McEntire's emotional execution or her simple, catchy melodies that you might find yourself humming here or there. As a guitarist I immediately noticed the superb interplay between the lap steel, electric and acoustic guitars. Like McEntire's vocal melodies, simplicity is key. There is no excess, as if everyone got together and mapped out the perfect location for each note and each melody so that no one can take away from each other. No part goes unchecked, and that's what makes it beautiful; you get to take everything in at once.

So, to all you nay-sayers out there who say "Yeah man, I listen to everything but country"...maybe you should check yourselves on this one. Mount Moriah's effective, wonderful alt-country has actually outshined anything I've heard from the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy camp these past few years (and, coming from me, that's huge). Give it a chance, I mean, nobody loses when you stream the album for free from their BandCamp, right?

That all being said, "Social Wedding Rings" and "Lament" are two of the best songs I've heard this year. Brilliant, memorable music.


1 comment:

  1. This is an absolutely fantastic album and one of the best I have heard this year.


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