Tame Impala, The Black Angels, 13th Floor Elevators
Dusty, dirty desert psych-wave
" If Lou Reed had grown up in Austin, Texas instead of NYC "
Much like their songs, the trajectory of Rome’s Big Mountain County has been one of slow-burn evolution. Formed in 2012 from the ashes of much-loved underground band The Boilers, what started out as a trio has morphed into a quartet, building a loyal, cult following and developing a power and grace that’s all too rare in the psych-rock scene. From their first self-produced 7” singles in 2013 through extensive touring and their debut proper, the imposing Breaking Sound, they’ve been honing, tweaking, and growing, and now stand on the cusp of genuine crossover success.
It’s fitting that the nine songs that makeup Breaking Sound were conceived during a writing retreat in a house at the base of Mount Etna, for they harness the same smoldering potential and frisson as the famous volcano. Self-styled as “wild psych rock”, their is a very deliberate approach; songs unfurl incessantly, driving ever forward, developing new layers as they build. Nothing seems unhinged or unplanned, and despite having a bass player called Wolfman Bob, their work carries all the hallmarks of hard graft and meticulous ears. But when they do release the handbrake and aim for the sky, the result is a glorious racket of technicolour crescendos.
That they are equally adept at quiet poise and slowly teasing out tension is a testament to their songwriting talent and versatility – one listen to live album Anachronicle, a roller coaster 47-minute journey of peaks and troughs, confirms just how polished a set of performers they are. Big by name and big by nature; 2018 is theirs for the taking.