Mount Eerie
No Flashlight
(P.W. Elverum & Sun)

"Knowing no one will understand these songs/I try to sing them clearer/Even though no one has ever asked/'What does Mount Eerie mean?'" From the very first line of No Flashlight—the first proper full-length release since abandoning his critically acclaimed Microphones moniker in favor of Mount Eerie—songwriter/producer Phil Elverum builds himself a rather convenient escape hatch; one that he spends the remaining 35 minutes using over and over again. After releasing three consecutive records of masterfully progressive conceptual vision, Elverum's latest (as its title suggests) seems to be more about a search for something than a destination—and through it all, Elverum seems more than comfortable leaving most of us in the dark. Though there are clear conceptual threads running throughout—the dualities of "(2 Lakes)," "(2 Mountains)," and "(2 Moons)"; living in "the world" and in "the night" as some nebulous state of being; nature as metaphor for self-knowledge, etc.—Elverum seems intent on ensuring that "no one will understand these songs" by willfully obscuring them with an impenetrably thick cloud of allegory. To this end, No Flashlight is largely a hushed affair compared to the Microphones' more theatrical bombast—mostly dominated by acoustic (and reserved electric) guitars, hand drums, and whispered vocals—an approach that only compounds the mysterious haze that envelops the record. And though at times frustrating, it's the questions that keep me consistently coming back to No Flashlight. So Phil: what does Mount Eerie mean, anyway? ZP

Quit +/or Fight
(Sub Pop)

Like its cubby, fuzzy, friendly sounding name, Holopaw doesn't wanna fuck; they're totally cool with cuddling tonight. Quit +/or Fight, the band's second rec with Sub Pop, is all Sufjan-ish, Don McLeanish falsettos and sighs that settle beneath the warm, heavy comforter, with purrs and aaahhhs of vibes and bass clarinet. Unlike Sufjan (or even Don McLean, who has his dark side) the Paw never rises above a whisper. But where a lot of all-cotton-and-no-thorns bands can get real monotonous, Holopaw are thinking ahead. Drums sound like drums then alla sudden th-th-th-thump like rabbit feet on the shady forest floor. Non-trad percussion does its best at keeping it non-traditional. Then when we least expect it, cussin' and anti-gov lyrics kick up dust above pop that's cool and smooth as blueberry frozen yogurt and just as sweet. It's unpredictable, and that makes up for the non-varied pace. Still, I've never made it to the end without gettin' nice and mellow and sleepy. ADAM GNADE