Altamont

Our Darling

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A little less Allman Brothers/Skynyrd than before, Altamont enters a new millennium with Our Darling, showing that 2001 can still be a place where the rock is loud, brutal, and flavored with the right amount of punishing dumb-ass fun. The three-piece still sounds like the Melvins spin-off it ultimately is, of course -- it's not like people were expecting Dale Crover to sing folky lullabies -- but the insane vision of Mountain for the modern day remains perfectly present. Dale Crover and Joey Osbourne trade off on the lead vocals with the appropriately howled and roared testosterone-driven spirit such music demands, while Crover takes the lead guitar and beats it into utter and total submission in a variety of entertaining ways. There's rampaging barely-stop-for-breath boogie like "Short Eyes," a perfectly appropriate stomp through Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues," even some just-epic-enough stoner sprawling in "Stripey Love" and the title track. Crover's extended guitar part in the latter, especially the endlessly descending one-chord section in the intro, is fantastic, a taking of things to logical limits, with the heavily reverbed, swampy follow-up the cherry on top of the cake. The inclusion of unexpected instruments for the genre -- everything from "goose honking" guests to wah tuba, music box, and cough card -- adds unexpected but worthy touches throughout, maybe not quite as crazy as the sax on the Stooges' Funhouse but not too far distant in ways either. There are even subtle moments, like the semi-acoustic verses and restrained singing on "Dead Car," a very Fu Manchu turn in ways. Still, all it takes is the steady bar-band-gone-big drum intro on "Pirate Love" or the deep-end rumble and chug on the reverse tapes in hell burn of "Swami" to realize where it all comes from in the end. Unlisted bonus track -- the band letting the random insult machine spew forth.

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