Town Mountain, Original Bluegrass and Roots Country (Meat on the Bone Records): Two Stars
• Genre(s): Bluegrass
• You’ll like it if: Songs of “rambling,” “breakups,” and “tear-fueled whiskey” stoke your senses.
• Defining song: “Pork:45”
Local pickers Town Mountain put all their creativity into the picking, while sparing imagination for both the album title and lyrics. Sweltering numbers, like the instrumental “Stamp Creek Stomp,” could roust the frail to dance. These fiery forays are quickly doused by tired bluegrass cliches. The main culprit is the song “Fall in the Mountains,” which predictably serenades “to be in Carolin’ with you on my mind.” At times, lead vocalist Robert Greer sounds unsure he’s really heartbroken, although six of the 11 songs traverse into breakup country. More convincing, however, are the upbeat instruments that appear to want no part of the moping.
Marsupial, Moby Fleck: Three Stars
• Genre(s): Psychedelic/improvisational rock, elements of prog.
• You’ll like it if: You’re searching for a stirring soundtrack for your delusions of geek grandeur.
• Defining song: “Moby Fleck” — Fourteen minutes of psychedelic madness that’s more Acid Mother’s Temple than hippy-dippy marathon rock.
Marsupial is campaigning for geek glorification. The self-described “fierce-improvisational pocket rock” quartet, Marsupial has gone concept with their new album, Moby Fleck. “The album is based on the internal conflict of a shy, overweight, shut-in computer programmer named Moby Fleck,” said guitarist Ian Reardon. “He creates a computer virus to shut down the world, and get back at the people (the govt., childhood bullies, rednecks, etc.) who have forgotten what life is really supposed to be about.”
Moby is not as conceptually intriguing as, say, a blind pinball prodigy, and it’s hard to feel pity for a dumpy computer nerd who creates a worldwide virus. Still, I’m a sucker for an album that tells a story. Although experimental, Marsupial’s album strays from a lot of improv-minded albums where the song format fits together as well as a jigsaw puzzle in a hurricane. Still, folks with three-minute attention spans will cower, while fans of the open-ended jams will rejoice. The groove-based psychedelia of “Thieves in Green” contrasts nicely with the no-hope dark jams of “Commence, Your Time is Up.” Moby Fleck sometimes suffers from obvious storytelling, leaving little to the interpretive imagination. However, the improv has a purpose, and Marsupial’s “leaps into the unknown” always come with a map home.
[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]