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Anthony Carew

Free Music Monday: Black Mountain "Mary Lou"

By November 19, 2012

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In Canberra, the town I lived in as a kid, there really is a place called Black Mountain. It was a place for family picnics, bushwalks, and visiting its tourist-friendly tower. Even if it was named after a color oft-considered villainous, there was nothing threatening about it.

But, when viewed through the prism of their wildly psychedelic music, Canadian crew Black Mountain make their handle sound like some shadowy, spectral, haunted wraith rising up from the landscape; a veritable Mt. Doom looming on a dark and stormy horizon.

"Mary Lou" sounds like a slow, steady ascent towards the terrible peak atop said Mountain; if not a descent down the other side, into the shadows. It's a nearly-eight-minute workout filled with scorching guitars and lyrical warnings. "Don't go hunting in the wild!" Stephen McBean and Amber Webber holler, even if the titular "Mary Lou" seems like the sort of Red Riding Hood-ish figure who's going to ignore all sensible warnings.

Of course, as much as this macho stoner-psychedelia is unafraid of the shadows, it's also a rock'n'roll song so righteous it borders on bombastic; sounding like the kind of music that'd be blaring out back of a panel van circa 1975. And if it's rockin', don't bother knockin'. It comes from Black Mountain's soundtrack to a surf movie called Year Zero, and, long before surfers mellowed out to the toothless mewling of sensitive acoustic barefooters like Jack Johnson and his milquetoast ilk, jams like "Mary Lou" were standard surf soundtracks. Photo Ryan Walter Wagner

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