Black Mountain

Jagjaguwar wants to make damn sure this disc is heard by as many people as possible. The imprint released the CD in January but plans to launch it again in August -- and the extra effort is more than justified. Black Mountain, Stephen McBean's idiosyncratic Vancouver-based collective, is dark, heavy and loud enough to deserve spins south of the border.

"Modern Music" is an example of the album's cheeky gamesmanship. Its sonic elements aren't strikingly contemporary, but thanks to a sardonic arrangement and lyrics that encompass everything from hit records to maimed horses, the track actually attains a certain modernity. "Druganaut," "No Hits" and several other cuts toy with metal, folk, psychedelia and even skronk, courtesy of cameos from saxophonist Masa Anzai. The moods shift, and so do the vocalists; McBean shares the chore with Amber Webber, who's either funny or plaintive, depending on the terrain before her. The duo get higher together than they ever could have alone.

In other words, Black Mountain is well worth scaling, no matter how many times it's reissued.


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