Chicago’s Speck Mountain
bears more than a passing resemblance to ‘90s alt-rockers Mazzy Star. This is
due in large part to the ethereal singing of Marie-Claire Balabanian, but also
to the band’s shoegaze take on country-rock. On their new album, Some Sweet Relief, the strumming is slow
and the atmosphere is deep. The music is, however, just mediocre.
The record begins with a riff that sounds like it’s cribbed
right from Modest Mouse’s “Dark
Center of the Universe,”
although Balabanian’s vocals keep it from becoming a total clone. “Angela” ups
the tempo just a little bit, with what passes for a swinging bassline in Speck Mountain’s
world, as a hypnotic, overdubbed vocal repeats the subjects name over and over.
“I Feel Eternal” may be the most interesting song, with a horn section beefing
up the meandering guitar lines. The rest of the album, however, keeps a slow,
spacey, reverb-laden pace.
Mountain doesn’t lack for
style, but the end result is not very effective. It’s not just that bands like
Galaxie 500 or Yo La Tengo have done this better, although that is true. In the
end, there’s a listlessness to the music that no amount of ambience can
Standout Tracks: “Angela,”
“I Feel Eternal” JONAH FLICKER