Blabber’n’Smoke got all fired up over Fire Mountain’s EP, Of The Dust, way back in 2011. Since then main man Perry brown has been posting demos via Facebook before launching a Kickstarter campaign for this album. Sadly there was a shortfall and for a while it looked as if the demos would have to suffice for the time being. A pleasant surprise then to find out that they’re the latest addition to This Is American Music‘s roster with their debut album All Dies Down. On the EP we compared them to Fleet Foxes but here they’ve taken some giant strides while expanding their scope with a chunkier, beefed up sound, the result being a fine collection of strained ballads and sparkling countrified jaunts. Singer and songwriter Perry Brown remains a fine singer with his voice a well stained husky instrument in itself while the band (Ryan Richburg, electric guitar, Walter Black, bass, Bryan Segraves, keyboards and Adam Vinson on percussion) whip up a fine storm on occasion. There’s a Springsteen like muscularity to some of the tunes with much of this down to the keyboards while the guitars alternately ripple or spark with some feedback fury thrown in.
The album kicks off in fine fashion with Be Your Eyes, a fine mid tempo piece that recalls Whiskeytown, a perfect summer song with its rippling guitars and melodic joy. Anchor Iron weighs in with a whiff of Wilco circa Summerteeth and by now it’s apparent that as a band they have stepped up a pace with the arrangement here just short of wonderful. The rhythm section is taut while a tough guitar line chops across what appears to be a vibraphone as Brown sings with an almost hoarse weariness. The song bustles towards a busy middle eight before the choppy guitar and keyboards wind it down to the end, a great song and one that I reckon would please fans of Danny and The Champions Of The World. In fact there are times throughout the album when one can imagine Fire Mountain to be working at the same coal face as Danny and his Champs. Factory Line showcases the band’s new muscle with a guitar riff descended from Secret Agent Man that mutates into a churning country rock stew with added organ swirling throughout. Brown is ferocious as he spits out the words as the band pummel on. While it’s difficult to make out what the song is about it conjures up a neon lit strip peopled with hookers and full of danger. In any case it’s grade A Americana noir.
Time for a breather with the gentle strum of At The Seams , a song that is gently energised by a softly propulsive bass and drums with rippling piano before it takes wings and flies. Doing Fine has a Stray Gators pulse beat with guitars shimmering in the background and an excellent piano solo as Brown paints a picture of ennui in a small town while Traces just about stumbles into view with a Stones’like woozy swagger, the beat just behind the guitars while Brown is joined on vocals by Janet Simpson-Templin. The outro here is majestic and does recall Jagger and Richards’ finer forays into the country genre. They cap it all with the final song, Moving Target, opening with Brown crooning over first acoustic and then electric guitar filigrees before the full band pitch in leading to an organ and feedback drenched climax. Tremendous.