Black Mountain

In the Future (Jagjaguwar)

Nostalgia isn't always a bad thing in rock. No, it doesn't always result in great art, but it can sound pretty bitchin' blasting from a car stereo. Such was the case last year, when, in an era infatuated with New Wave revivalism, a surprisingly soulful slab of guitar rock arrived drenched in brown acid. The source wasn't some old reel-to-reel tape recovered from the musty basement of a boarded-up head shop, but the contemporary Vancouver band Black Mountain and its song "Druganaut."

Black Mountain's second album, In the Future, is more proof that for these five Canadians, led by bearded songwriter-guitarist Stephen McBean, the future sounds like a hazy black-lit garage in the early Seventies. But although it may offer similar heavy riffage, Black Mountain doesn't do "stoner rock." Rather the band is on a far more varied and nuanced excursion: an audio journey from warm Summer of Love psychedelia to the cold, anguished Vietnam-vet winters, rampant with narcotics and suicidal cults — a tableau with an understandably modern appeal.

While the epic prog-rock musings of songs like "Tyrants" and "Queens Will Play" have an exotic, tripped-out appeal, they also serve as reminders of how absolutely necessary punk rock once was as an elixir. Black Mountain truly finds its groove on the slower songs. On both "Wild Wind" and the excellent "Angels," McBean and his cohorts snarl confidently à la early Alice Cooper and Goats Head Soup-era Stones, sounding powerful and surprisingly contemporary. Taken as a whole, In the Future seems less an ode to some mythical past than a passionate love letter to an amazing record collection.

 
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