Black Mountain and Crystal Skulls are bands I shouldn't be into. - Oh My Rockness

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Black Mountain and Crystal Skulls are bands I shouldn't be into.

March 24, 2005
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I never thought I'd be into a band that could even remotely be described as "psych rock." Nor did I ever think I would like a band that sounds like Squeeze meets Fastball. Man, I must be getting old or something. All things considered, I think you should check out Black Mountain and Crystal Skulls at Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night.

Black Mountain is another one of those Canadian "art" collectives (haven't we had enough of those already?). But these guys sound closer to Black Sabbath and The Velvet Underground than Godspeed or Broken Social Scene. Principle songwriter Stephen McBean writes riffs that rock in an unmistakable Ozzie style, and they're wrapped around trippy jams that are epic in length (that's where the psych part comes in). While McBean's vocals give off an air of slurred nonchalance similar to Lou Reed, co-vocalist Amber Webber contributes upbeat, call and response chants, giving their music a nice balance of contrasting vibes.

The strength of Black Mountain is really the guitar work. It just rules. Like any good psych rock band (although there's really no such thing), they'll throw lots of keyboards, percussion and horns at you to make the mood a little more acidic. But it's all about those crazy Sabbath riffs -- they make you want to not only pump your fist, but keep on listening. There's only so much rocking out you can do to a saxophone, but with a well-played guitar, well, the rock-out potential is limitless.

Also playing is the new Seattle band, Crystal Skulls. They play distortion-free pop with songs lyrics like, "you're not a hussy anymore." Christian Wargo's vocals sound like the guy from Squeeze and that guy from Fastball (kind of... i realize that's a damning comparison). But really, you need only like bands like The Shins or Rogue Wave to be into these guys. They've got themselves some well-written pop tunes with nice melodies and lyrics that don't sound like they were written on a paper napkin at the local Denny's. Crystal Skulls won't hurt anybody.

Black Mountain and Crystal Skulls play Mercury Lounge, Wednesday, March 30th. You can also catch them at the Asterisk Performance Space in Brooklyn on Thursday, March 31st.

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