The Mountain Movers

Mountain Movers

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When Mountain Movers added guitarist Kryssi Battalene to their lineup in the early 2010s, it changed the folky psychedelic sound they had in place to something far more experimental, noisy, and loose. On their 2015 album Death Magic, her squalling, feedback-y guitar playing gave songwriter Dan Greene's sometimes-pristine work an extra sonic boost. The change had been in the works for a while, but the result was almost like the debut of a brand-new band. On 2017's self-titled album for Trouble in Mind, the quartet take things even further sonically. The album is bookended by two ten-minute-plus songs that dispense with any formal structures and basically let Battalene loose to freak out as the rest of the band chug and crash mightily (on "I Could Really See Things") or lock into a jam that sounds like a cosmic blend of Can and Sonic Youth (on "Unknown Hours"). One's tolerance for extended guitar workouts may well dictate whether this new direction works or not. The band certainly throw themselves into it 100-percent and Battalene has plenty of sonic tricks up her sleeve. The remainder of the album wedges her playing into more structured songs that are still long and meandering, but do have things like melodies, verses, and some wistful emotions. "Everyone Cares" and "Angels Don't Worry" both have a lilting, psychedelic quality that brings to mind Magic Hour, only instead of intertwined dueling guitars, there is Battalene's shrieking, grinding fuzz. It's a huge sound, impressive and enveloping. When attached to memorable songs, like the poppy, almost Dwight Twilley-esque "Vision Television," the juxtaposition of hooky melody and overloaded noise is dramatic. When let loose on free-form tracks that unspool for lengthy periods, it's still impressive, just a little less so. Still, the band's reinvention is one worth checking out and Mountain Movers is a bracing, challenging, ultimately satisfying album.

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