(I was supposed to review Real Women, the new record by Mount Carmel (the title track for which is above), but then there were a bunch of things, and then it became too late for it to be published. Embarrassingly, the review sat mostly-done while that threshold was crossed. I’m not about to finish it, but I just read Frank Chimero’s book and now I’m all jacked up on pro-work platitudes, so I figured I would share it.)
For all the emphasis placed on bluesy psychedelia and early heavy metal as influences these days, it’s easy to keep certain unfashionable aspects of the late sixties and early seventies at arm’s length, burying straightforward hand-me-down riffs in fuzz or otherwise winking and nudging one’s way into a critical distance from the earnestness of the source material. Mount Carmel, now on their second LP for Siltbreeze, don’t play it like that. Real Women, like Mount Carmel’s debut, is an extremely straightforward heavy blues record. Think Groundhogs, for example. Or Free, or most bar bands from a certain era. Most people who have it in them to track down a Siltbreeze release have likely already come to their own private conclusions about this type of shit, so best to cut to the chase: This is an pretty great take on this type of shit.
While it’s clear Mount Carmel have done their homework, it’s tough to deny that there are a few moments on Real Women that recall G.E Smith and The Saturday Night Live Band or, say, The Black Crowes. There is an utterly unavoidable cornball element to all this throwback business, but Mount Carmel play it straight.
The reasons Mount Carmel manage to pull all this off are too many and too ephemeral to count. The drums, for example, keep things just syncopated enough, deftly avoiding a cargo shorts groove while maintaining a boogie that would make Lobby Loyde do that weird sharpie dance. There’s plenty of fast, impressive guitar work here, but it tends to be in the service of melody and, more importantly, it avoids going off the deep end into absurdity the way a band more interested in pastiche might. The details amount to a very palpable and awesome sense that these guys love this type of stuff. Despite itself, and unlike the purely retro bands mentioned above, there aren’t any costume party vibes on Real Women. Instead, there’s a very real sense that these guys think this variety of rock and roll is the best possible variety they could be playing.
If records could wear shirts, Real Women still wouldn’t be wearing a shirt. I’m far too much of a poser to listen to this type of thing all the time, but the fact remains: Barbecue Season is upon us. Perfect.