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Old Smiler

Mt. Gigantic
Old Smiler
(Friends And Relatives Records)

More than anything else, Mt. Gigantic sounds like a batch of friends making a load of noisy and energetic music and having a lot of fun doing it. Originally started by one Wayne Sebastian several years ago, the songs have been filled-out and added-to by a whole slew of different people from the Bloomington Indiana scene, resulting in a release that goes back and forth from sedated to full-on freak-out. Imagine Of Montreal dropping with their nicer pop sounds and instead being influenced by punk rock and it may be somewhere close.

"Bring Back The Healthy" opens the release and gives you a good idea of what to expect (as well as one of the most infectious vocal melodies and lines on the entire release) as rough guitars, distorted laughing, handclaps, chimes, and other elements all run roughshod over a pounding beat. The whole thing swerves precariously back and forth between whimsical nonsense and actual boy/girl vocals that lock into a delirious sing-along before collapsing in the middle and closing with a wheezy latter section. Structurally, it almost feels like math rock at times, but musically it feels like 7 people banging on whatever they can get their hands on.

"Dip Into My Daddy" continues the odd lyrical narrative from the first track and again veers wildly between raucous choral dance punk and quiet sections that give a nice breath to the track but still feel like they're harboring something sinister. Although my aformentioned reference probably isn't the most valid, the group definitely has an Elephant 6 collective feel at different times on the release, even if they lean towards a more punk-rock influenced side. In addition to all the different vocals (whispered, sung, screamed, heavily filtered) stylings of both male and females, there are little sonic details (like hand claps, sleigh bells, strings, horns, etc) that pop in and out of the mix and keep things interesting.

Only the short acoustic guitar and vocals track of "Bells" seems to feel out of place on the release, and while not all of the sonic experiments work all the time (this is definitely not an album for those who like subtlety), this idiosyncratic release packs quite a punch and a whole lot of fun into a compact (but often quite dense) 35 minutes. More importantly, it is also a lot of fun.

Rating: 7