Across Tundras sound like if Sonic Youth lived out in the woods and jammed with Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. Some of the thicker distortion does suggest Hum or Neurosis, as the bio states, but the creaky, folksy feel of this Denver band places it closer to Pelican. Why Decibel and freakin’ Blabbermouth are covering this album is beyond me, but if this counts as metal, then so be it.

Dark Songs of the Prairie (on Crucial Blast) really pushes an old-time feel, with classy artwork of Civil War musicians and rural America. The lyrics to “The Old Sexton” and “Aura Lea” are even adapted from traditional songs. But far and away the main vibe I get is Sonic Youth, though not the fashionable, NYC-obsessed version. This is more like the Sonic Youth of late-night prairies on Made in USA and Bad Moon Rising. A few acoustic interludes with distant-sounding male-female harmonies (again, Sonic Youth) break up the album.

The Neil Young part comes in the grungy tones that just drip with midrange; the mix works well for this kind of stuff. The band also shares Young’s gift for quiet poetry: “When your words are frozen on thin air / And everything reels in front of you / You can laugh and breathe without a care / Everything real is right in front of you.” The songs are long, so one should suffice for a taste:

If God Cuts You Down

This isn’t the most immediate album, but it has a real atmosphere about it. Surprisingly, Scott Hull (of Pig Destroyer, etc.) mastered it. It’s not the grind/noise/black metal he usually masters, but he does a fine job. Check it out

@ Amazon
@ eMusic
@ Crucial Blast