These days, it’s hard to tell which band of his Stephen McBean favors most. While the more appropriate answer would likely be “none and all”, it is interesting that it has been more than three years since the release of Wilderness Heart, the 2010 album from his Black Mountain band. However, to be fair, it had been almost five years since his Pink Mountaintops released their latest, Get Back. And while many of us wait patiently for a new Black Mountain album, as many of us are pleased to have Get Back.
For the uninitiated, Stephen McBean is the primary individual behind both projects. It is his song-writing and interests that fuels both bands. And while Black Mountain is largely a solid group of core musicians (that Amber Webber…what a voice!), Pink Mountaintops is the “side?” project that allows him much more control to explore his music, that which is in his best interests at the time. And certainly Get Back gives us that.
Get Back can best be explained as a smorgasbord of songs that range in styles. From the strange and frenetic “North Hollywood Microwaves”, a song that centers in on unusual elements of sex, to the fascinating Black Mountain-like “Sell Your Soul”, a song that lights up the sky with its own set of fireworks, to the psychedelic rock style of “The Last Dance”, it’s clear that Get Back is an album of a solid Rock and Roll base, reminiscent of decades past. The fact that it is McBean’s work put to quality songs by a long list of invitees makes it just that much more fun to enjoy.
Of course, some songs may take you a bit longer to attach to, while others are instant loves from the first play. The fact remains, not only is Steve McBean an important part of our current musical landscape (and should be more appreciated), but with Pink Mountaintops to allow his more creative side, Black Mountain may have the longevity it requires. I just hope that we get more frequent releases from both sides.
Truth is, Stephen McBean, in the guises of Black Mountain, and his more personal Pink Mountaintops project, is the real deal.
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Label: Jagjaguwar Records
Availability: CD, DD, LP
[Note: If you haven't the single notion of who Black Mountain is, let me direct you to In the Future (2008). If you are equally unaware of Pink Mountaintops, start with this new album.]