Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: 3rd planet, best of 2009, built to spill, Cymbals Eat Guitars, merriweather post pavilion, Modest Mouse, pavement, Releases of the Week, the moon and antarctica, Why There Are Mountains
From the triumphant screaming that kicks off “And the Hazy Sea” to the subtle acoustic guitar line that closes “Like Blood Does,” Cymbals Eat Guitars channeled the best of ‘90s indie rock and infused it with a 21st century spin on their March 2009 full-length debut Why There Are Mountains.
Few straightforward ‘90s-influenced indie rockers today have the stamina to last more than a few songs without sounding like derivative pastiches of Modest Mouse, Built to Spill or Pavement. Cymbals Eat Guitars proved they could do more with songs like “Indiana,” which opens saturated with guitar reverb and transitions (in a way somewhat reminiscent of Merriweather Post Pavilion‘s song divisions) effortlessly into “cleaner” guitar sounds, synthesized electronic manipulation, and even a few fleeting horn segments.
Innovation in instrumentation isn’t the only thing they’ve got going for them though. Cymbals Eat Guitars have a knack for crafting both strident, solo-heavy marathons like “Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)” and “Cold Spring” as well as shorter, more accessible songs like “Indiana” or “Some Trees.”
Musically Why There Are Mountains covers all of the bases a great debut should cover, and then some, and thematically, it works in much the same way. The penetrating lyricism of “And the Hazy Sea” make it one of the most interpretably dense lead tracks since Modest Mouse’s “3rd Planet.” Ambiguous references to the George Washington Bridge and the year 1999 steep the song and the band in a mystery which only makes them even more appealing.
Cymbals Eat Guitars did good this year, so let’s hope they continue to do so.
— Eric Vilas-Boas