One of the things I like about blogs, in particular this blog, is that it allows writers to discover things they never would have seen or heard before. It’s kind of funny to me that I’m based out of Chicago, but I get just as much music sent to me from cities other than this. So far Boston and San Francisco have been the biggest two. Repeat After Me is another in the group of strange incestual music relationships I’ve started stemming from my friends The Poison Control Center (this one via Victory and Associates). None of the bands that have sent me music from this branch have been bad, which amazes me to no end.
I have to admit that after about twenty seconds of From The Mountaintop I got a bit worried. There was something in the back of my head saying “Oh…I’ve heard this record before. It’s Everclear.” Luckily there was just a heavy resemblance to the opening of “Santa Monica” in that first guitar riff. Trust me, the rest of the record sounds nothing like Everclear.
In fact, the album has a familiar sound, but there isn’t really one thing I can point to and say, this is definitively what this is like. To the band’s credit they do a good job of mixing it up between 70’s AM radio influences and 60’s pop. I think much of the 60’s references come from Robert Kassees’s vocals. It’s not all the time, but for some reason on certain songs his voice reminds me a little of Roy Orbison. Maybe I just have Orbison on the brain, but I swear it’s there (Check out “End Up In Your Arms” and let me know if I’m crazy). Make no mistake, though, this is a rock album, Orbison or no.
One thing that really pleases me is the fact that Repeat After Me doesn’t take the easy way out and try to make the music a little ska. There are elements of thatt genre present, but they play it for more of a rockabilly feel than the uber-popular 90’s fad. The song that made me thing of this, “Gimme What You’ve Got,” would actually make a decent ska song probably. Thankfully there are no horns present, and the band let their main components of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals carry the whole workload. There are a lot of moments where ska haters might get that flash in their eyes like a terrible No Doubt song is coming, but rest assured, From The Mountaintop never goes there.
Lyrically, Repeat After Me stays right in my wheelhouse with genuine, heartfelt songs that appear to be based on real life experiences. Everything feels authentic, especially on my favorite track, which is actually a slower song called “Champagne.”
Tonight we drink champagne like we just struck gold
Is this my whole life or just another episode
Tonight we raise our hands, we keep our hearts intact
Tonight we drink champagne, we take the good life back
Other highlights for me include another slow one, “Every Music Has It’s Moment,” and the maybe a little Duran Duran-ish “Singapore.”
There’s a lot of great harmonies throughout the record, but I think my favorite thing is the guitar work of Eric Murriguez. He seems to have the ability to have a bunch of different styles, and they’re all on display here. Everything from shredding a million notes a minute to soulful ballad solos sound fantastic. If there were one thing I wish there were more of on From The Mountaintop, it’d be more tasty riffs.
I’ve embedded a sampler from the album so you can check out a few tracks for yourself. I think you’ll enjoy it. The band is trying to raise money to do a vinyl pressing, so if you dig it and have $20 to spare, buy the deluxe version. You’ll get a download right away of the digital album, and a vinyl copy sometime in December it looks like. They’re about eighty percent to goal, so it’s getting close. Act now and help some youths realize their dream of elating hipsters with fresh new vinyl.