Reviews

Sebastian Grainger and the Mountains

Author: Ashley Hampson
11/12/2008 | Sup | www.supmag.com | Album Review
It's been more than two years since Death From Above 1979 officially broke up. Sure, the Toronto based dance-punk outfit decidedly called it quits long before that, but rode out the lengthy tour they'd embarked on so as not to disappoint fans or put the crew in an awkward position, nice Canadian boys that they are. Bassist Jesse F. Keeler, branching into the burgeoning electro scene, released debut album The Looks the same year as one-half of explosive act MSTRKRFT. Drummer Sebastien Grainger, meanwhile, seemed to bow out of the spotlight. There were a few instances when he unexpectedly popped up playing drums on the K-Os single "Sunday Morning" and lending his vocals to the Does it Offend You, Yeah? track "Let's Make Out" giving fans a bit of hope for a future resurgence. All was eerily quiet for a while until a MySpace page for soul/funk creation the Rhythm Method popped up. It was catchy, it was different, it had layers and emotion, and it was Sebastien Grainger. The two songs posted on the site looped repeatedly on my computer. I was madly in love and couldn't get enough. Suddenly Grainger's page had new tracks. They offered a new sound, a new vibe, a fresh look at the man shedding the label of drummer for now defunct DFA1979. These tracks were nothing like the funk-infused sounds of the Rhythm Method. They were raw and emotional, undeniably rock'n'roll. Within minutes, the American Names EP sat on my desktop, downloaded through the Saddle Creek website. The four-track EP shone a light on what was to come after the hiatus.

The much anticipated full length, Sebastien Grainger & the Mountains, is well worth the lengthy wait. The album is like an electrified right hook, the poignant 12-track LP full of catchy anthems and unabashed exploration of the self. "I'm All Rage" kicks off with an unconventional beat with backing bass, before blowing into a cacophony of frenzied strings, while "I Hate My Friends" builds on strident guitar and a prominent ride cymbal before hitting its infectious chorus. It's impossible to sit through the disc without fighting the urge to tap your feet, clap and sing, hell, even pick up a guitar or set of sticks and jam along (note: to save yourself lifelong embarrassment, remember to close and lock your door when attempting that last one). "(Are There) Ways to Come Home" kicks off with slow, buzzing guitar and irresistible crooning, hits a ridiculously catchy bridge and eventually floods with distressed vocals, and "(I Am Like A) River" presents moody undertones with chaotic guitars, distorted bass and a touch of synth, before closing with beautiful repeat lyrics "to feed this fire we're gonna need air. To feel this way I stop breathing." The only downside to Sebastien Grainger & the Mountains (if one can even consider it a downside) is the absence of the track "Map of the World," found on the American Names EP. The ballad winds up with sad, simple piano and ends in grizzled, wailing guitars and gut-wrenching vocals. As a nice consolation, however, the bass heavy, dance happy "Renegade Silence" courtesy of the Rhythm Method brings the album to a close. The cocky, aggressive stance that permeated the very essence of DFA1979 has all but vanished, leaving in its wake a mature, reflective, evolved individual and album.