Thursday, June 6, 2013

Secret Mountains - Rainer (2013)

Baltimore psychedelic rockers Secret Mountains have been making their sweet psychedelic jams for years, impressing many a crowd at shows mostly in their native Baltimore but also New York and its surrounding areas for quite some time with little word of a full length. However after two EPs (Kaddish and Rejoice) and a tape of newer songs (Winter Sessions), Secret Mountains are proud to usher their debut full length Rainer into the world.

In comparison to their past recorded efforts (Rejoice in particular), Rainer is a starkly darker record. Darker textures, darker lyrics. Coming off the celebratory closing track off Rejoice "Rest Easy", that seems like a bit of twist and yet even in "Rejoice", the band tended towards similar tendencies. Beginning with title track, Rainer is an album with a surprisingly cinematic feel. The tracks follow in Secret Mountains' tradition of stretching out before you like a sparsely traveled country road and yet, this time around the tracks, the lyrics, the jams, the all around feel of it all is far more insistent, more hard-hitting, restless even. A remarkable change of pace from the Rejoice EP where the three song EP essentially floated by rather effortlessly.

Instead, "Rainer", "Coasting", and "Remainder" wouldn't be out of place in a indie action film or psychological thriller. Rainer seems to revel in its darker-seeking textural palette until around the time of "High Horse", a touching memorial to a departed friend. That's right about the time the record starts to brighten up a little, letting a bit of sunlight into its previously overcast skies especially on the hopeful, skyward reaching "Remainder".

A lot of bands are rather quick to put out a debut record sometimes to the point of not making sure it's really all that good. Secret Mountains inability to put out a full length until now has clearly helped them (not that they were ever in any danger of putting out a bad record) as Rainer seamlessly flows with the band at their absolute strongest, each members' input clearly visible. Three years may be a rather long time to wait before releasing a full length record but time has certainly been a blessing here, making sure that Rainer was the absolute best record it possibly could be. Each track memorable and endearing in its own way while also seeming very at home alongside the others.  Rainer is an exercise in patience being its own reward, made all the better by the band coming into their own from just playing together. If three years time is what we need for a peak performance inspired record than I might not be so disappointed if Secret Mountains take another 3 years before offering up a follow up.  Until then, Rainer is a more than exceptional placeholder.

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