For some reason – no, that’s not true, the reason is the **** economy and the constant fear of being unemployed while we watch the technology sector crumble and Wall Street reward itself with 18 billion in bonuses – it’s been a struggle lately. The underlying anxiety starts to take over and every time the phone rings or an email pops up on your screen, your heart starts to race. You start comparing yourself to your co-workers that you actually know nothing about using random comparisons with obscure qualifiers to judge your worth.
It’s also probably the reason I’ve found myself listening to the powerful debut from Bruce Peninsula over and over again. People who read herohill already know how much respect I have for the band – I voted them as the second hottest band in Canada behind the strength of a few songs – and how excited I was to hear A Mountain is a Mouth, so why am I only getting around to talk about it now?
Unlike a lot of the blog world, I let this record marinate slowly and only listened to it a few times in December and January and to be honest the first few listens didn’t blow me away like their 7” did. I certainly enjoyed the songs on AMisM, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t rush to judgment and took the time to embrace the subtleties and varying emotions, not just the thumping percussion and soulful choral hollering. It’s almost impossible to ignore the ragged epics the collective pens - Steamroller and Crabapples could shake the dead back to life - but there is a depth to these songs that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Subtleties are not what you might expect from a ten-piece collective led dominated by hand claps and the gravelly growl of Neil Haverty, but the soft touch the band adds to the record really helps the band (and the listener) keep one foot on the ground during the soaring, surging chaos. A perfect example is how they balance the hand clapping, tub thumping energy that ends Satisfied with the surprisingly delicate, uplifting introduction of Shutters. You’d never expect it, but the clarity and tranquility hit as hard as any percussive beat on the record.
I’ve read tons of reviews calling the listening experience religious or spiritual but to me, the band strips away the need for prayer and floods your soul with a much more important feeling; inspiration. Instead of looking to the heavens or hoping someone else can save you, Bruce Peninsula makes you feel you can overcome anything on your own. As the peaceful sounds of Weave Myself a Dress slowly pick up momentum with a gentle foot stomp, marching band drum and a choir, you feel a surge inside your body that makes you feel like you can fly. Even when the band lets you hit rock bottom (the bleak Drink All Day) they lift you back up with the workman like Northbound/Southbound.
A Mountain is a Mouth doesn’t hit as hard as Lift Em Up or Jack, Can I Ride, but really, you wouldn’t want it to. Instead Bruce Peninsula creates emotional valleys that give the record a timely reality, but follow them up with soaring epics that inspire you to keep going, and that might just make this one of the most important records you’ll hear this year.