The Record Lounge: Reviews 10/05/2010 – Black Mountain, The Light Fantastic, The Broadsiders, Pantera


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Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

Did that seriously crack my windshield? Oh good, at least the bumper is hanging off a bit. This is fantastic. We had just been in Austin for about 6 minutes when traffic ground to a halt for the 30th time and I rear ended another car. All the way from Fort Worth only to do this upon arrival. I am so happy. I was unfortunately out of town when Black Mountain came through on their 2008 In The Future tour, and had another chance to catch them at Waterloo Park during SXSW for free at the Mess With Texas Party. Seemed like a lot of effort to catch what was sure to be only 30 minutes of rock (it was 45 minutes).

And it was so worth it.

In The Future was my favorite record of 2008. And my favorite band I had been turned on to that year as well (props to David Fricke). And honestly this review is about 3 weeks late because I’m still not too sure what I think of it. It’s Black Mountain, therefore I dig it right off the bat. It’s a much more focused effort than its predecessor. More concise, even, really great, to be honest. And even more honest, I am listening to it for the first time in a couple of weeks, and geez, it’s a really great record.

What is not present is a 17 minute epic a’la “Bright Lights” or a solid howler like “Queens Will Play”, both from the previous album, and both of which were huge selling points to me. Also no meandering keys. Which to some might be positives.

Maybe I just need to let it stand on its own and not compare it to earlier albums. In that regard, this is a barreling juggernaut of rock. All 70’s influences are present again, just put to a different use. The dueling vocals of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber interplay to a great effect here. It’s riff-y (“The Hair Song”, “Old Fangs”, “Wilderness Heart”, “Roller Coaster”). It has lazy jangle (“Buried By The Blues”).  It has driving tempos (“Let Spirits Ride”). There’s introspective balladry  (“The Space of Your Mind”, “Sadie”).

Records like this one are the reason why I can’t stand listening posts (yeah, 90’s reference). Had I just purely walked away after listening to this for a first time (and I might have done so), I might never have revisited the record. Giving it some time to settle and the excitement of a new record from a band I might scrutinize a bit more than another based on a beloved earlier work allowed me the chance to revisit it with a clearer head. And I am so glad I did.

I really am just rambling about it at this point. Wrapping my head around how amazing this record is, and in an almost stream of consciousness form, I am having difficulty putting it all into words. Do I like it as much as I did In The Future? Not sure. Do I feel that it is a better record? Absolutely. Bringing it all in, capturing and compacting what they do in this collection of songs is becoming more of a payoff with each second.

Please excuse the rambling nature of this review. I was rediscovering this record and band all over again.

To just be concise as they have been: it’s great.

Go get it. Now.


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Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (20th Anniversary Reissue)

Along with Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss, this is the soundtrack to my 1990 Fall semester at Weatherford College. It was one of these two records continually playing those four months. Non-stop. How has it been 20 years since both? I saw Slayer play the entire album front to back a couple of weeks ago, commemorating the anniversary, and Pantera has released a three disc version of their ground-breaking major label debut.

The remastered album jumps through the speakers in the same way it did in 1990. Just larger. And crisper. And fuller. If you haven’t revisited this record in a while, you need to do so. And remember what was going on in music during this time. Paula Abdul. M.C. Hammer. Madonna channeling Dick Tracy. Bell Biv Devoe.

Yeah, remember those days?

Pantera was taking over the metal world with this album, that was so far beyond what they had been doing with their previous albums, taking that power groove to metal and making it, well, groove with a natural unbridled aggression. And it’s that move that took metal by storm, and no one could duplicate. They carved out a sound so stylized and unique with Cowboys From Hell, if anyone was doing their brand, everyone could tell it was a copy. Pantera was Pantera, which is why they are still loved to this day.

And it so warrants a three disc expanded version. You know the original album, so let’s talk about the extras.

Disc Two takes 2 shows, one of which was video taped for the original Cowboys From Hell home video at Foundations Forum 1990, the annual heavy metal conference in Hollywood which had served as their coming out party of sorts. Second, you get the promo only tracks from their Alive + Hostile E.P. All crisp and remastered for your enjoyment.

Demo versions of all but 2 tracks from the original album (“Primal Concrete Sledge” and “Clash With Reality”) plus an unreleased demo “The Will To Survive” (which sounds much more like their original pre-Cowboys sound you understand why it was unreleased) comprise disc three. Very clear versions of these demos demonstrate what they were working with and the original ideas behind the songs on this larger than Texas release.

This was Texas metal at its peak, and what paved the way for a career that would help define their particular sound.

A sound that Pantera wholly owned and is sorely missed.


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The Light Fantastic – The Mayfield LP

Dallas/Fort Worth’s musical landscape has broadened just a little more recently. With an album already recorded, and their first show on the horizon (11/13/10 – Doublewide), The Light Fantastic brings together members of beloved locals Red Animal War, Doosu, and Saboteur for an indie rock take on their post-hardcore pasts.

Helmed by Saboteur guitarist Matt Pittman on guitar and vocals, Pittman is joined by Saboteur bandmate and his former Red Animal War co-founder Justin Wilson, The Light Fantastic offer an upbeat debut outing with The Mayfield LP, while putting the rock into the indie-rock moniker. This is also afforded by enlisting the drum prowess of one of Dallas/Fort Worth’s premier timekeeping forces, former Doosu/Flickerstick member Todd Harwell.

The Mayfield LP is certainly a nice surprise for everyone, and is currently downloadable for FREE at their website. Snag it while you can.


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The Broadsiders – Pressed To Kill EP

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch The Broadsiders a couple of times in the past year, the first time being when they opened for Agnostic Front at Trees with The Hellions. 3 things caught my attention. 1. They were a pretty solid punk act. 2. They did a killer cover of The Dead BoysSonic Reducer”. 3. They used spiral guitar cables that hearkened back to older clips of Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler and Tommy Iommi, as well as early British mod bands (thanks VH-1 Classics for all the great footage!).

The latest offering from Dallas punk act The Broadsiders demonstrates their power and background in British Oi! and various other punk varieties.  Frontman Austin’s (could only find the one name) gravel-throated lead vocals command the charge of The Broadsiders chant along street rock-n-roll. Standout tracks include “Castle Law”, “1836” and “Face Value”.

Released as a 10” vinyl format, Pressed To Kill also comes with a digital download code as well.

~ by thesynaptic on October 5, 2010.

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