Friday, April 10, 2015
Cassette Review: the modern folk "american mountain"
[$6 // Edition of 50 // http://music.themodernfolk.net/album/american-mountain]
The first time I saw this cassette I read the side of it as "The Modern Self" (don't ask me why) and so I wrote it as such in my notebook and thought of it that way while listening to it. It wasn't until I actually stumbled upon it by googling "The Modern Self American Mountain" that it came back as the correct band name and I realized I had been thinking of it as the wrong name the entire time. This isn't really relevant to the review (What's in a name?) except for the fact that one of my first notes on the first songs was that this is not folk.
"American Mountain" opens up with a clanky rock n roll number that is somewhere between acoustic, clean guitars and a banjo. Even on the second song there is a definite banjo twang but it just doesn't sound like folk to me in the traditional sense. (Though it may share similar elements) Somehow, the rock n roll reminds me a bit more of The Who. Through songs about pawning everything that sound like High Pop twee to instrumental numbers, violins and what could be considered tuning, Side A has a nice set of songs that makes you really think outside of the folk box.
On Side B, the songs do take a turn for the folk side but still not in the way you're probably used to, though I still debate if I would have just called this folk if I was influenced by their actual name and not my interpretation of it. There is a little bit of country in it and also a little Two Gallants. There is a fiddle and it has this country drawl, with slide guitar, that makes me think someone is about to tell a story that starts with "Well, Old Tex..." It's somewhere between a hoe down and a hootenanny, which admittedly is not the worst place to be.
The last song has the line "Nightmares got powers on me" which gets stuck in my head like a folk punk song so I feel kind of like it has that element of pop to it where it can just be so addictive. If you're looking for something that will really stick with you, then The Modern Folk has created a cassette that will do just that and not because of the lyrics. With the tradition of folk becoming more popular in recent years (Thanks, Mumford & Sons!) I hear a lot of bands (and I mean A LOT) who sound like a straight rip off of them.
What The Modern Folk has done here is one of the most creative things I have possibly ever seen. They've taken all of your ideas and notions about what current folk bands sound like and flipped them upside down. They showed you that just by doing something different you can make a sound that uses the same ingredients as everyone else but just comes out in such a unique way. I'm trying to think of a good analogy for it, really I am, but I can't because all I can think of is the music. This is just mind-blowingly good.