On its latest album, this Chicago-based instrumental quartet brings a free jazz-like approach to five songs of varying natures. Opening number “Sweaty Fingers” is a nearly 12-minute exercise in repetition. Featuring a stop-start funk riff, the track branches off frequently into effects-laden solos and sudden walls of noise before evolving into a low-key chugging pattern that cuts out suddenly as a segue to the next number. “Silver Headband,” another highlight, evokes more of a blues-rock vibe with stabbing guitar licks and crunchy distortion that takes off near the six-minute mark over a double-time beat. But the record isn’t all stomp and drive. “Shikaawa” includes a looping sample that wouldn’t be out of place inside a video game arcade, alongside dueling flute and piano solos. And the closer “Slow Bern,” might test many listeners’ patience, leaving “Arrow’s Myth” as a mix of both worlds—spirited rock that knows when to roll.
Mist Covered Mountains
This Distant Shore
Mist Covered Mountains is Québecoise/Celtic fiddler Donna Hébert; her daughter, vocalist Molly Hébert-Wilson; and peripatetic guitarist/vocalist Max Cohen. Locals will recall that Molly had an amazing voice when she was a tween; as a mature young woman, there’s added depth, luster and sparkle. This Distant Shore features a few well-traveled Celtic songs, including “Fear án Bháta” and “The Parting Glance,” each very well done. Especially noteworthy is “Katie Cruel,” in which Hébert-Wilson’s voice punches through a muscular arrangement in which Cohen channels Bert Jansch and Hébert’s fiddle sizzles. Even better is Hébert-Wilson’s gorgeous and sensitive cover of Richard Berman’s “The Gifts.” Cohen takes the lead vocal on three tracks, including the hilarious hidden track “Hamster Heaven.” Make sure you don’t remove the CD until that one plays! Catch a CD release party at the Montague Community Hall Nov. 30.
Featuring a youthful vibe, the newest album from this band of Hampshire College rockers is a delightful mix of material that’s fit for any season. Punctuated by piano and a catchy violin hook, “Hallow’s Eve” is just one track that shows off the group’s ample musical chops. With lyrics that mention the “sharp October air” and hills hidden by shadows, the song arrives just in time to soundtrack another Halloween in New England. Elsewhere, “Sexy Water” opens with the sound of panting mouths before a recurring bass part introduces listeners to verses about quenching one’s thirst. And “Make Contact” is a fine opening cut, employing dual vocals to charming effect before its sudden close. Still, it’s the mature restraint shown on numbers like the closer “Yet” that hints at the potential for future recordings. This is highly tuneful music that promises even sharper sounds in albums to come.