Lately, it seems like a lot of bands are showing up in Chicago before their new albums come out. Sometimes just a week or two before the CD release. Is the idea that people are already hearing the music through early leaks? Or are they trying to stoke interest in the new records, create some buzz? In either case, the result is that you see bands playing songs that much of the audience is unfamiliar with. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make me wonder what’s going on behind this trend.
In the case of Black Mountain, the band has a new record in the can, but not scheduled for release for some time. In the Future is coming out way in the future – or at least, it seems like it. January is the release date. Yes, I’ve heard the new record, and it’s good, though it’s a little hard for me to concentrate right now on a 2008 album. The Vancouver band came to the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night (Oct. 3) for a show previewing the new music, and that’s exactly what it delivered. Black Mountain played all but one song from In the Future (I think… assuming they followed their set list), and just couple from the self-titled 2005 debut that fans are more familiar with. The audience seemed to get into the music regardless. There was some serious finger waving and head shaking going on at the Bottle.
Black Mountain has a great sense of what makes epic music. They’re an interesting hybrid of several styles of music. There’s a little bit of Led Zeppelin in their riffs, some moody P.J. Harvey in the singing, a lot of Black Angels-style grooving repetition. The group started out the show with one of its mellower, spookier numbers, “Night Walks” (which closes the new record), before launching into its more familiar guitar rock. For its encore, Black Mountain played the 16-minute epic “Bight Lights,” the second-to-last track on the new record. (The set list I grabbed from the stage says the band followed up that song with “Wild Wind.” If they did, the two songs ran together and I failed to notice.) The new songs sounded excellent in concert, standing up well to the older tracks.
Opening act was the Cave Singers, a new outfit on Matador Records doing some pensive acoustic music, with occasional touches of folk blues. Not bad, but I wasn’t super thrilled.