Review : Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
PitchforkPlenty of bands want to take you higher and even more are looking to get you down, but it's increasingly rare to find a record that sounds good with a AAA guidebook and a few hours to get to god knows where, as long as it's somewhere else. Despite the unabated use of adjectives like "sprawling" or "sweeping" or "epic," the indie road trip album has become something of a lost art, with bands mostly forgoing dense, pent-up instrumentation that slowly unfurls and releases-- you know, that lonesome crowded sound. You could blame it on so many bands being from autophobic NYC, or that the Pacific Northwest gods of indie are still going too strong to already be a primary influence, but neither would explain New York's Cymbals Eat Guitars' Why There Are Mountains. While there's plenty of geographical signifiers on their debut, it's almost topographic in its approach, without hooks and choruses so much as map-like layouts of mountains and sloping valleys.
Six-minute opener "...And the Hazy Sea" has Why They Are Mountains sounding like it could immediately implode, kicking off with the kind of cataclysmic blowout Built to Spill used to get to in a few minutes' less time. Occasionally adding reverbed guitar and electric piano to give an eye-of-the-storm calm, the band reaches about six different crescendos; it's less showy theatrics than Cymbals Eat Guitars just packing a lot of ideas into their songs. It's tough to consider structures this unpredictable to be templates, but upon hearing the subtle instrumental shifts of "Indiana" evolving from noise-rock interlude to a horn-led piano waltz, you locate a certain pretzel logic in these songs-within-songs. Yelpy and adenoidal, bombastic and yet unkempt, you could pretty much slap a sticker on this thing saying "RIYL: indie rock."...full text
CokemachineglowWhy There Are Mountains is that rare indie rock album that comes along every once in awhile to make us forget that, really, saying “indie rock” is at this point like saying “anal fistula.” It’s basically saying nothing at length and totally misses, on a descriptive level, the unfamiliar and un-artificed giddiness that got us listening to bands like Pavement or Modest Mouse in the first place. There’s this frankness to Lonesome Crowded West (1997); had it been its purpose to placate or dress-on a whole lot of people, it would have been shorter (way shorter), less truculent, and would avoid as a point material like “Shit Luck” or the last, best eight minutes of “Trucker’s Atlas.” There’d be no “Long Distance Drunk”! That would be sad.
Lonesome Crowded West was like Isaac Brock revealing his disposition so far as he could get away with whilst still wearing clothes; hearing it as a sixteen year-old schmo in the lower refectory of Physics Camp was invigorating like (I guess) it must have been for these guys in Cymbals Eat Guitars. Their debut is track-by-track evidence of their love for this sound; every brazenly distorted WOOP or holler in the interstices of their big guitar rock lays claim to their inheritance. On this their first record, they sort of sound like survivors. Calling it indie rock at this point is like swimming in the shitbowl, staring up. Hype won’t sell this band, because they’re not that good, or bad. Why There Are Mountains is plain pleasing indie rock—how it used to be, how it’s ceased to be since, at least in spirit. There’s no exploding art-rock solos like you’d get with Doug Martsch or Brock, but that weird yearning-ness signatured all over the Northwest is rolled out all over here. The production does a nice job of keeping things relatively dusty and, on tracks like “Some Trees,” where in the vague ramshackle of some discontent you really hear this band open up and play to their communal strength, observes a cute distance....full text
ZombiechatterJudging from the sound of Cymbals Eat Guitars debut album “Why There Are Mountains” you might expect them to be from the Pacific Northwest. Comparisons to Built to Spill, Modest Mouse and Pavement are inevitable with the band at least at this point in their career, but when people are comparing your sound to the Holy Trinity of 90’s Indie Rock I think it is fair to say you are in good company. In my mind you take those three bands and sprinkle in a little Sonic Youth and BAM you have the basic ingredients for Cymbals Eat Guitars.
Truth be told though the band is not from the Pacific Northwest. They hail from Staten Island NY where guitarist/vocalist Joseph Ferocious (aka Joseph D’Agostino) and drummer Mathew Miller graduated High School together in 2006. During their High School days they started off as a Weezer cover band with other friends. Soon after that they found their keyboardist the 25 year old Daniel Baer like all modern indie rock bands do…. from an ad they placed on craigslist. The group would then be rounded out by bassist Neil Berenholz, and they quickly started playing gigs together and working on songs....full text
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