I have a poor grasp of grammar and an even poorer grasp of being able to explain myself. So what shall I do with this great talent. Obviously, I should be reviewing music. For example, I’m not even sure how to lead into the first album, perhaps I should…
Boy From Black Mountain by Beat Circus.
I stumbled across Boy from Black Mountain while looking for circus music on bandcamp. Hey, sometimes circus music is great, don’t judge me. The artwork of album was interested and the first track was about trains, so I had to give it a go.
Wikipedia(a.ka. some random dude(ette) describes the sound of Beat Circus as “experimental music, modern classical, cabaret, circus music, Appalachian string music, bluegrass music, old-time music, Southern Gospel, and funereal(I -just- learned that’s not a typo. Learn something new everyday) music.” In my experience, when a band’s sound is described by just rattling off a whole bunch of genres, they’re going to be good. It means that that they haven’t gone “Let’s make a pop album!” and just made a whole bunch of songs sound like pop because that’s what they want to sound like.
Boy from Black Mountain’s first track The February Train starts out with a piano, accordion, and violin. Probably. A great start. Anything with instruments other than guitars, bass, and drums, I love. And in my inability of describing(why is it describing and descriptions?) I’ll simply say, The February Train is an absolutely amazing song. I listened to it several times and bought the album based on the song alone. I then listened to the song over and over again for some time before even progressing to the next songs. Brian Carpenter, the main vocalist, reminds me a lot of Brad Roberts from Crash Test Dummies, the type of voice we need a lot more of.
Unfortunately, due to how amazing The February Train is, the rest of the album cannot live up expectations. That’s not to say that it’s not good. In fact, quite a bit of it is great. The Life You Save May be Your Own, Boy From Black Mountain, and Petrified Man, would in my book could be the best songs on an album, if it were not for The February Train. The main sound of the album as I would describe it would be if Ennio Morricone and Cirque Du Soleil came up with an album. So…I guess I found my circus album? There is a very western sound to it, and I don’t mean country. I mean like the music was pulled directly from a western and then fed through a calliope.
According to Bandcamp, the album is inspired by how Brian Carpenter dealt with his son being diagnosed with autism. Boy from Black Mountain is very much about the imagination of a child, but directly dealing with autism, not really. Every now and then I catch something that may be a reference to it, but it may not but, it could really just be an ink blot. But knowing that, it causes me to focus more on the lyrics to see if I can catch those references, which is great. Because the lyrics are great. Most of the songs are stories, something extremely lacking in a lot of music nowadays, so it’s great to sit back and hear a story along with great music.
Towards the end though, the album starts to drag a bit and that’s because of the increase of instrumentals. I have nothing against instrumentals, but when there are a lot, it starts to wear a little thin with me. But that’s my personal preference. I wonder if I bought the actual physical cd if there would be linear notes to go along with the instrumentals to explain whats going on (ala The Protomen) which greatly enhances the experience for me.
I’d suggest the album to anyone who loves Crash Test Dummies, but I play The February Train to anyone I can get to listen to it. The album is definitely worth the price, and the time it took me to find it, especially for The February Train.
Rating (The Rating system is based on how far I’d drive to see the album performed live): 4 hours…maybe 5.