PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Loch Lomond: When We Were Mountains

Jason MacNeil

Loch Lomond

When We Were Mountains

Label: In Music We Trust
US Release Date: 2003-11-11
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

This band contains members of the Standard, a fine rock band whose latest release, Wire Post to Wire, would have fans of Placebo salivating immediately. But don't expect the same type of music on this project. Ritchie Young and Rob Oberdorfer decided to try this little side project out with two others from Portland, namely Ryan Cross and Kate O'Brien. The result is what some critics have titled as "cut 'n' paste electronic", but it's not all as simple as that. A lot of these tunes are very challenging to listen to, but in an eclectic kind of way. The haunting back beat begins "Stripe" like Nine Inch Nails, but the strings and lush orchestration turn it into a psychedelic Moody Blues-like number. The string section is particularly strong on the track while the vocals, at times stretched too thin, blend well with the melancholic feeling. "It's a speed of what's to come / It tears me apart", the singer states, bringing to mind the Smashing Pumpkins at their most vulnerable. Unfortunately, they don't like to let a good thing go easily, making the ending a bit tedious.

You get the impression both Young and Oberdorfer spent a lot of time sifting through their record collection with these new songs. "The Mountain" is a classic '70s rock format, with the vocals eerily resembling Supertramp's Roger Hodgson. The acoustic guitar and lithe backing vocals create a dreamy Syd Barrett vibe as the song ambles along easily. It's also a song that the late Elliott Smith would've nailed in his sleep. Thankfully they never stray from the blueprint, resulting in a leisurely folk pop effect. But this stops in its tracks with a tougher, grittier ambient texture on "Sir Edmund", falling in line with Depeche Mode circa Ultra. Loch Lomond miss the mark on this song, as it just seems to float along aimlessly without much substance or direction. By the conclusion, you want to put it out of its own misery or, to coin a phrase from the lyrics, remove its oxygen tank.

More effects are brought out, including seagulls squawking or some similar noise, for the Schroeder-like piano opening to "Canadian Shield". The high notes in the opening verse are nearly comical as they are definitely out of grasp here, sounding like a junior high school choir. The creepy give-and-take vocals are perhaps its biggest strength before it goes into a dirge-like rock coda. "I'd like to tell you about the strangest secret in the world", a voice says to start "Whatafall", possibly the record's highlight. Tension built à la Tool, the song builds and builds but never actually cuts through, brimming underneath as a frantic piano weaves in and out. It's as if they tried to create their own mini-opus from Bowie's Outside. However, the following stab at pretentiousness falls flat on its face. "Sourire" is performed partially in French but isn't able to make any inroads.

Nonetheless, though, after the instrumental "He's Never Seen the Ocean", Loch Lomond pick things up quite a bit for an improved and invigorating homestretch. Again the tension comes to the fore on "Del Fuego", which features vocals from the Standard's Tim Putnam. A lot of things are going on in the song, but there is a sweetness to the track which shines through. It's very much like a latter day song from the Cure as someone talks about jumping out the window. Another asset is that it seems fully focused and wraps up a little over three minutes later. "Salt the Air", a sparse acoustic tune that includes evolves into a standard swaying pop rock melody, something that is the exception to the rule on the record. The fragile vocals work wonders also. "This Year of Our Lord" concludes the album the same way it opened up -- minimal but very ambitious at the same time. It might not whet all appetites, but it's still a strong offering for most.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.