Boy from Black Mountain

Boy from Black Mountain

by Beat Circus


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If the overall conceit of theatrically minded indie rock with strings from an alternate-world Edwardian era has seemed a bit overwhelming at points in the early years of the 21st century -- in terms of discourse and attention if not necessarily chart success, admittedly -- it's not that the approach itself is inherently wrong. On their third album, Beat Circus are at once perfectly representative of an aesthetic that touches on everything from Chris Ware illustrations to vaudeville romanticism, while possessing a few twists to keep Boy from Black Mountain from being "just" another such album. It helps that bandleader Brian Carpenter has an ear not only for energetic performances but a growling edge in his voice that suggests Tom Waits more than Chautauqua pageants -- it's not a question of "rocking out" so much as avoiding an eternal stateliness at the expense of all else. His band's pretty sharp as well, with performances (and arrangements) easily shifting from stop-on-a-dime rave-ups to lusher, more contemplative ballads. Another sign of his ear and eye for creative fusions comes in the guest appearance of the marvelously inventive Larkin Grimm on four songs, her own sense of strong performance adding even further spark to songs like the rushed "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" and "As I Lay Dying," the latter arguably the album's highlight, a giddy reflection on mortality and family memory. This all said, Boy from Black Mountain does often feel less like a creative extension than a codification of an approach, one with its own flair but ultimately seemingly designed to have its tracks appear somewhere on a playlist in between the National and Gogol Bordello. Time may well help Beat Circus stand out more strongly, but for right now they've found themselves unintentionally trapped in a larger context.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/29/2009
Label: Cuneiform
UPC: 0045775029429
catalogNumber: 750294
Rank: 141503

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Beat Circus   Primary Artist
Julia Kent   Cello
Gavin McCarthy   Drums
Andrew Stern   Banjo,Guitar,Electric Guitar,Slide Guitar
Ron Caswell   Trombone,Tuba
Brian Carpenter   Harmonica,Piano,Trumpet,Accordion,Harmonium,Tambourine,Vocals,Moog Synthesizer,Baritone (Vocal),Throat Singing
Larkin Grimm   Vocals
Jordan Voelker   Viola,Vocals,Background Vocals,Saw,Mezzo-Soprano (Vocal)
Paul Dilley   Acoustic Guitar,Double Bass,Contrabass (Vocal)
Ellen Santaniello   Vocals,Soprano (Vocal)
Paran Amirinazari   Violin,Vocals,Background Vocals
Doug Larosa   Trombone

Technical Credits

Bryce Goggin   Producer,Engineer
Sean Slade   Engineer
Brian Carpenter   Arranger,Composer,Lyricist,Producer
Jordan Voelker   Composer,Lyricist

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