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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Pink Mountaintops
Outside Love
Jagjaguwar

Rating: 9.1/10 ?


May 5, 2009
All you need to know about the Pink Mountaintops' latest release occurs fifteen seconds into the album opener, "Axis: Thrones of Love." Through a fuzzed-out drone of oh-so-psych guitars comes a crystal clear clatter of two perfectly placed piano chords. This simple structure sums up the radiance of Stephen McBean, be it with his band Black Mountain, or this, his "softer-side" gig: while he creates a lot of smoke on the water, he manages to transcend the haze with striking musical clarity.

McBean isn't just trafficking Stoner rock for wide-eyed Gen-X, Y and Z types. He is too savvy a songwriter to take the bait that has folks still hooked on sonics of the Seventies. Leave that phish food for the crop of jam bands aping to sound fresher than day-old leftover salmon. The Black or Pink may bring forth the spirits of Gilmour, Richards and Page, but McBean and Company do it on their own confident terms. And with each successive release this Vancouver veteran is gaining serious strength: Outside Love simply kicks classic ass. It should be required at every biker bar jukebox in the land.

Outside Love follows the Pink Mountaintops' excellent Axis of Evol, yet sounds like it's hot the heels of Black Mountain's most-awesome 2008 release, In The Future. This makes sense, since Evol was perfectly paired with Black Mountain's self-titled release during the same period. Conclusion? Screw the band name, McBean is a temporal writer, and he channels his unique vision into equal parts regardless of his color-coded outfit. It's a bold and brash move that is working wonders thus far. Feeling hard as metal? Black (Sabbath) Mountain it is. In the mood for psychedelia-laced sweetness? Call up the Pink (Floyd) Mountaintops.

Putting semantics aside, the song remains the same: McBean has dropped a sexy, harmony-heavy, bombshell of a beauty with Outside Love. The guest list alone should hint at its considerable powers, with slots filled by personnel of A Silver Mt. Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jackie O Motherfucker, Bonnie Prince Billy, Blood Meridian, Destroyer, et al. All are put to great use in this ten song suite of love and hate, and one gets the feeling that they weren't just brought in as backup musicians. The album touches on a myriad of genres, from the country of "Vampire," to the Jagger drawl of "And I Thank You," to the pop gem "Holiday." The numbing title track itself would fit comfortably on Pink Floyd's The Final Cut.

Outside Love's album cover art features a Danielle Steele-style romance novel draped in velvet, which is actually how this record feels on the ears. On the backside is an absurd photo of a shaggy McBean-as-author sitting in a La-Z-Boy. A cheesy theme perhaps, one that could go wildly awry in lesser hands. But Stephen McBean is as steady as she comes these days. With a growing canon, he is proving to be an auteur of high caliber, one to watch and wait for each successive album. I for one don't care if it's a Black or Pink mountain peaking through the clouds of conformity: I'll be climbing it no matter, the rewards are that great.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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