"One day, you're like, 'This is bullshit. I've had it up to here with this fucking shit music,'" reflects Black Mountain drummer Joshua Wells on the decision to begin his band's debut album with an indictment against all contemporary music. "Modern Music"—from the Vancouver, BC, act's 2005 self-titled LP—mocked pop with the nasal chorus "Oh, we can't stand/all your modern music." But as the full-length unfolds into an easy balance of new-weird indie rock and jam-band psychedelia, you would be correct to assume the intro is mostly just talk. "Then the next day, you're like, 'Oh, I guess it's not all bad,'" says Wells with a chuckle.
Listeners might be less forgiving if Black Mountain had instead opened their behemoth follow-up, In the Future, with these lyrics. The epic, indulgent recording—which fellow Mercury contributor Andrew R. Tonry called "[mostly] a big, clunky mess"—lobs ahead like a wobbly, conceptual 8-track tape from the '70s. Styx's The Grand Illusion comes to mind, itself a guilty hodgepodge of five-piece feel-good and hard-rock bombast. "Tyrants" lifts the headbanging fifths of obsessively anachronistic locals Danava before channeling a bounty off Led Zeppelin IV: co-ed quiver, ghost town pickin', rawk payoff, the works (of a satisfying KGON playlist).
Yet if In the Future weren't wobbly, it couldn't feature the band's treasurable Mellotron keyboard. Revered for its scratchy orchestral sounds—and reviled by prog-rockers who toured with the fragile beasts in the '70s—the tape-based instrument is key to the band's analog aesthetic. And before German outfit Manikin Electronic released a digital Mellotron (the "Memotron"), Black Mountain weren't replicating this core component onstage. Wells says their show is now true to the album, "at about one-tenth of the weight." Just don't expect modern music.
"When it comes right down to it, good music just comes about by falling in upon itself," he says. "We're not trying to reinvent rock 'n' roll or anything; we just want to make music that makes us feel good."