Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best of Year # 2: Witch Mountain - Mobile of Angels

Witch Mountain Mobile of Angels cover
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

The idea that the good stuff is over by the time you've heard of it will be a familiar one to anybody who came of age during the Bush presidency, but it is also a particularly apt one for rock and roll.

Were you at Cream's Farewell Concert? Did you catch a date on the Sex Pistols' American tour? Did you attend one of Kyuss' Generator Parties?

Me neither. Time waits for no man, all that, all that. And even if you're lucky enough to co-exist with the good stuff, your particular accidents of hometown and employment obligation most often conspire to shut you out.

Witness Witch Mountain. The closest analogue to them may be Fairport Convention, wherein a solid, though unspectacular, band with a strong vision releases a debut, then is re-defined when a woman of startling vocal talent joins up.

Witch Mountain's Sandy Denny was named Uta Plotkin, and her soaring two-octave voice, full of vibrato and blued notes each at different registers, turned a decent band into a great one. Witch Mountain play a fairly distinctive brand of bluesy doom metal. Dread as you would expect is certainly one of the emotions conveyed, but especially after Plotkin's entry, the music is also colored by brooding melancholy, giving it a multidimensionality not often seen in cult metal. And never mind Plotkin's voice--its capabilities are not often seen in rock and roll.

Witch Mountain South of Salem cover
Plotkin joined the band in 2009. Subsequent albums were South of Salem from 2011, Cauldron of the Wild from 2012, and this year's effort named above. I probably prefer Cauldron best, if only for the incendiary "Shelter," but all of the albums, including the new one, are powerful and emotive and distinctive against the competition.

And <sigh> now it's all over. Plotkin announced earlier this year that with the release of Mobile in September, she would be leaving the band.

The rest of the undeniably talented band--drummer Nate Carson, bassist Charles Thomas, and guitarist Rob Wrong--has been careful to emphasize that they will continue, as they search for a new vocalist, but some mere months after I discovered the group, it's hard not to think of Fairport, and believe the best is probably (once again) past.

Witch Mountain 2014 Carson Thomas Wrong Plotkin

File under: Carpe Diem, 2014

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