Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reviews:: The Acorn Glory Hope Mountain

For the next couple of weeks, the Acorn will be one of the few secrets left in Ottawa. Ottawa (not Toronto folks), our nation's capitol, is a hive of political back benching and scandal. It's also a hive for musicians that never manage to get the credit they deserve. Well, with the release of their much anticipated sophmore full length on September 25th (and some early buy in from Pitchfork & Stereogum), the Acorn is teetering on the cusp of the being the next big thing in indie rock.

The new record - Glory Hope Mountain - is Rolf's take on the stories of his mother's childhood in Honduras, and the distorted folk sounds are exactly what you'd expect considering the subject matter. The restrained piano that starts Hold Your Breath provides the perfect canvas for Rolf to describe the setting of these tales and expose the hardship and natural beauty his mother grew up in, and the band slowly adds guitar and percussion to help you settle into the journey.

This song, more than any of the other songs on the album (aside from the straight up rocker - Antenna), really exhibits energy and has the band breaking free from the folk boundaries. The well placed swells and breakdowns are a perfect opening act and as the band transitions into the tribal percussion and chants and frantic cadence of The Flood Pt. 1, you become a part of Rolf's memories of his mother's stories. The infusion of guitar and driving percussion really represents the raw power of the flood, building slowly, harmlessly in the distance before ripping through the village.

The band down shifts quickly, dropping to a more restrained pace and sound on Even While You're Sleeping. The slow drawn strings and ukulele/mandolin (ED: I actually am guessing at this sound) really mix nicely with the feedback and bursts of electric guitar as the record really moves into the folk realm. I think this strengthens Rolf's narratives, forcing you to settle into the story as the graceful horns and tribal rhythms dance in and out of your headphones.

The tempo jumps a beat on Crooked Legs, and much like Sam Beam did so well on his latest release, The Acorn refreshes your listening experience with subtle changes of pace, but never lets you escape the overall mood of the record. The gentle steel work and piano of the instrumental Sister Margaret floats like a warm tropical breeze and is a little vacation from tribal folk tracks like Oh Napoleon (which is sure to garner comparisons to Sufjan or Tony Dekker).

My one conflicting emotion is that the band doesn't ever really let loose. Like most fans of the the early stuff, I love tracks like Blankets (and couldn't disagree with anyone who voiced a desire for the more trademark indie sounds), but I think that too much variation would have taken away from the cohesion of the record. The instrumentation really embodies the day to day life (the banjo and acoustic guitar on the beautiful Glory for example) I picture Rolf's mom talking about. You never think of these tales as insincere or embellished, and as a result, it's hard to find fault with the record. The band accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, and delivers some breathtaking highs with almost no lows. In a year of disappointing follow-ups, I'm pleasantly surprised with Glory Hope Mountain.
MP3:: Antenna
MP3:: Blankets
Check them out when they hit Vancouver::
Nov. 2 @ the Plaza w Elliott Brood (early show - 7PM)
web site :: myspace :: label

Posted at 6:30 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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