Magic Mountain - Black Stone Cherry
This is Black Stone Cherry’s fourth album.
Can somebody tell me why this band isn’t selling out stadiums across the United States? WTF?
Or should I say, What The Fuck?!
I latched onto the BSC debut album after I found it sitting in my library. With four rocker-lookin’ dudes on a classy sepia-toned cover and song titles like “Backwoods Gold” and “Lonely Train,” it looked like something that might seriously rock and not mess around. I couldn’t have been more right.
Since I fell in love with that self-titled debut, Black Stone Cherry has released three more full length records of the same great quality rock ‘n’ roll. It seems that Europe, and the UK more specifically, has found and embraced this Kentucky outfit. So, what’s the problem here in the States? Well, I think everyone will have a theory as to why they aren’t a household name in their native land, but this collection has great potential to break them all over the planet.
Magic Mountain is chock full of good solid songwriting and instrumentation with just enough twang to label it Southern Rock. I find their brand of music similar to, say, Shinedown but with a Skynyrd sensibility. While Magic Mountain is a very typical offering from this band, that’s exactly what I was hoping for going into it. Just like you don’t want AC/DC to do an album of ABBA covers, you don’t want anything but ass-kickin’ blue collar rock ‘n’ roll from Black Stone Cherry, and that’s what they deliver here.
This might be the best band in the world from the classic/hard rock genre. Delivering great hooks that are painted over a canvas of sledgehammer riffs is their specialty. Band member Chris Robertson, who doubles as the band’s lead singer and lead guitarist, is the centerpiece in their formula. His emotional and gritty vocals and his sharp guitar work are signature elements of the Black Stone Cherry sound, and they are both on full display here. Take the talents of Robertson and put them with three other guys that are masters of their instruments and you have something explosive - that is Black Stone Cherry. I challenge anyone to find something tighter or heavier than a song like “Blow My Mind” or “Bad Luck & Hard Love.” When these guys are throwing down and “in the pocket,” there’s nobody better.
My only worry going into this record was if the band would be able to write another series of catchy melodies. The other three records are filled with great songs that have catchy choruses and melodies, but could they continue that momentum through a fourth album? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”
From the hard-nosed, radio-friendly funkiness of the first single “Me and Mary Jane” to the tender balladry of “Sometimes,” all of these songs have great structure, balance and melodic appeal. The best part about the Black Stone Cherry song technique is the fact that they don’t sacrifice that fist-to-your-face aggression to get to something melodic. They have a knack for writing songs that get you singing along with your fist in the air, but not in a cheesy anthemic framework.
Some of my favorite Black Stone Cherry songs are on this release. “Me and Mary Jane” has great hard rock appeal, and “Never Surrender” and “Blow My Mind” makes me act like a out of control 14-year old metalhead (...and boy oh boy do I thank them for that!). With an intro that has me thinking Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” “Remember Me” turns into a heavy hitter with a great hook and melody that raises hairs on my arm. “Fiesta Del Fuego,” aside from making me wonder if I’ve ever heard a heavier bass line, makes me thankful that there’s a band this good in the world. And “Hollywood In Kentucky” might be the most fun song in the BSC catalog (save “Blame It On The Boom-Boom,” of course). Reminiscent of Nickelback’s wordy album-enders like “Rock Star” or “This Afternoon,” this is Black Stone Cherry’s song about the differences between Kentucky country living and the Hollywood lifestyle. I think I love the lyrics of this song more than life itself. The social commentary and innuendo is beyond exceptional. Check these out:
A little bit of rain wouldn't make the news
You'd mix champagne with Mountain Dew
You'd keep the name that was given to you
And if we played a game somebody's gonna lose
Indian food would be cornbread and butter
You'd get your ass kicked if you talked about my mother
You'd open up a truck door taking out your lover
She might be your cousin but she wouldn't be your brother
Every pair of boots would be a little muddy
Your ass would get a job if you ran out money
The only stars you'd wanna see
would be somewhere over Tennessee
Everybody's hands would get a little dirty
To be a movie star you'd have to serve in the army
The good old boys would be the only ones getting lucky
If Hollywood was in Kentucky
A Malibu would just be a car
The real barbed wire wouldn't be on your arm
They'd serve sweet tea in mason jars
Down on Santa Monica Boulevard
Every front porch would have moonshine and pickin'
KFC would still be Kentucky Fried Chicken
A trailer on the lake would be waterfront living
The Kardashians wouldn't be allowed in
Come on ya'll, we've all gotta lighten up
Come on ya'll, we all have to light one up
Come on America, take a trip up Magic Mountain. You’ll be scaling the heights of one of this year’s best albums.
You can find out more about Black Stone Cherry here: www.blackstonecherry.com