The guys in Everest have a pretty good story to tell, from their quick beginnings (recording an EP at their first full-band practice) to being handpicked by Neil Young to join his label (Vapor Records) and open for him on his 2008 arena tour (where Death Cab for Cutie played the middle slot on the first half and Wilco played on the second half) to their move to Warner Bros. records in 2010. We were lucky enough to catch these guys on the way up – days after shooting this session, Everest was the musical guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Although Everest seemingly has it made, living out in the L.A. area where there’s nothing but surf and sun, we are pretty convinced that if it weren’t for the brutal Ohio winters, they would have moved into the Electraplay Studios. Continue reading →
Consider this a sneak preview show – both Minus the Bear and Everest have new records coming out in May (MTB’s Omni comes out May 4, Everest’s On Approach on May 11) but will be sampling from those records at the Newport on Monday night.
Minus the Bear are an interesting creature, they’ve built a big following with their synth-driven, experimental, funky pop sound (think Mute Math meets Ben Folds, Cave In meets the Alan Parsons Project) despite various members roots in hardcore bands such as Botch and These Arms are Snakes.
Only Neil Young would write a sequel to an album that never got released in the first place. The original Chrome Dreams lives in that grey limbo also occupied by the long-in-the-works retrospective box set Young has been piecing together for, well, forever. Chrome Dreams II collects songs written over a really long span of time and shuffles them together in a fashion that would lead most to believe the album was conceived as a cohesive whole from the get-go.
The album begins with the bucolic bliss of “Beautiful Bluebird” and then picks up to a shuffling boogie with “Boxcar.” So far, so good … nice pace, pleasant build-up, and solid songwriting is all in play. And then comes the walloping 18+ minute opus “Ordinary People.” Who has the balls to put an 18+ minute song three songs in?
Well, the answer is pretty obvious, and even more surprising than the placement of “Ordinary People” is the fact that those 18+ minutes never get old. Young hits gospel-choir heights through his churning guitar chords and trademark tenor warble, evoking a spiritual air grounded by his matter-of-fact lyrics and delivery.
The problem is that as wonderful as “Ordinary People” is, and it’s pretty terrific, there’s still seven songs to go after it’s finished it’s last note. And Young simply is not up to the task of besting such a shining moment, so the listener is left with an album’s worth of music that on its own would be a lovely experience, but pales as it’s forced to follow a true epic. And it’s a pity, because moment like the children’s choir bursting from within “The Way,” and the Appalachian hootenanny feel of “The Believer” are truly affecting.
I guess what I’m saying is that Chrome Dreams II is a terrific album, flawed only by its internal architecture. There are worse things to complain about, huh?