Speck Mountain

Carrot Top Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


You might scoff at the idea of Marie-Claire Balabanian and Karl Briedrick calling themselves musical soul mates. However, if you've heard the duo that calls themselves Speck Mountain, you'd understand how appropriate the term is. Though they grew up on opposite sides of the country, after meeting in New York City the pair quickly realized the chemistry was right for a band, and Balabanian started adding her vocals to Briedrick's sonic use of guitar and bass. Now with their third album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Badwater, Speck Mountain has added a drummer and organist to the equation (Chris Dye of Chin Up Chin Up and organist Linda Malonis), allowing for an even more textured, hazy sound to seep into these cautious, mesmerizing tracks.

The most obvious parallels here are Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies. Badwater certainly feels cut from the same cloth with its soft female vocals, barely distorted guitar work, and overall dreamy playing field. Lead off track “Caught Up” highlights Balabanian's soft, warm voice, and the remainder of the songs follows a similar path of echoed guitars, mid-tempo fuzziness, and tumbling percussion. Of course, there is variety here as well. “Watch The Storm,” the longest song here, offers a keyboard solo, while “Badwater” picks up the pace and channels their inner Neil Young. The addition of an organ was a splendid idea, and that sentiment is clearly illustrated on  “Slow So Long” where it matches the calm vocals perfectly.

An album that is ideal for a low key evening where lights are barely necessary and ideally the mountains are nearby, this is a downbeat, wandering affair that uses that best elements of space-rock from a very skilled angle. Shoegaze and psyche tendencies are present but kept to a minimum, giving it that mysterious feeling of being on the cusp of a dream.

Rating: B

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© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Carrot Top Records, and is used for informational purposes only.