Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Live - Songs From Black Mountain
CD Review by Sombrero Grande

At their best, the music of the band Live reminds me of a roller coaster. I’m not talking about the heights and dips; I’m referring to the feel of rushing adrenaline that stems from the energy Live is often able to pump into their music. While listening to songs like “Run to the Water” off their The Distance to Here album or “Lighting Crashes” off Throwing Copper, I turn up the volume on my headphones, close my eyes and allow myself to get swept up in the driving energy as though I’m being hurdled through the sky on a speeding coaster.

Their latest album, Songs From Black Mountain, doesn’t feel so much like a roller coaster--more like a spinning teacup ride. It’s still fun, but lacks the driving energy that propels their best work. I wouldn’t say there are any “bad” songs on Black Mountain, just none that really grab the listener or demand to be known as anything other than brief amusements. I enjoy the songs “Wings” and “The River,” but neither really stick with me after they conclude playing. “Love Shines” is my clear favorite track on the whole album, but even that couldn’t stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the top songs on Live’s other albums, like the two I mentioned earlier. Songs like “Sofia,” “Show” and “You Are Not Alone” never really seem to get off the ground and push against other, better tunes on the album to give Songs From Black Mountain an overall feeling that’s rather underwhelming.

Work that’s “pretty good” or “all right” is always difficult to review, and Songs from Black Mountain really doesn’t give me much else to say about it. It just lacks the driving energy of the band's other, better albums. While I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from checking out this latest offering from Live, I really can’t give it a ringing endorsement. If you go in expecting something mellower than their usual roller coaster ride, you may not be as disappointed as I was by the teacups.


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