Try as I might, I can’t come up with an argument against Murder the Mountains, the Relapse Records debut from Portland, Oregon‘s Red Fang and their second album overall. The songs are diverse without being pretentious, rocking without being dumbed down and once they get into your head, you think you might lose your mind from how constantly you hear them. Maybe that’s an argument against, but if so, it should say something that the biggest complaint about an album is that it’s so catchy it’ll drive you nuts.
Red Fang‘s self-titled had a couple cool tracks and that one they did the beery video for, and that was fun, but with Murder the Mountains, they blew themselves right out of the water. Their choice of producer in Chris Funk of The Decemberists was a bold one, but it paid off huge in that Red Fang wound up making moves and arrangement choices that other bands of their scruffy ilk might not have thought of and/or done, and they were heavy enough to still make it work. The gruff vocals of guitarist Bryan Giles and the smoother approach of bassist Aaron Beam played off each other track by track — and often within the cuts themselves (see “Number Thirteen” or “Throw Up”) — and the material was so immediate that the songs couldn’t help but flow together.
They’ve gotten a fair amount of buzz thanks to high-profile touring, but one listen to Murder the Mountains will show that Red Fang have the songwriting to back up whatever hype might surround them, and best of all, that it’s the music, not the hype, that matters to the band. Rounded out by guitarist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman, Red Fang proved that you don’t necessarily have to choose between being heavy and engaging with an audience. And all that’s wonderful, but most of all, Murder the Mountains is on this list because I can’t seem to stop listening to the fucking thing. With all of the quality releases that have come out this year, that should say something.
Tags: Oregon, Portland, Red Fang, Relapse, TFFH11