With two fervent drummers and a frontman who jogs in place while singing, there’s nothing low-energy about Philadelphia-based Mountain High. Their latest kicks up a grit storm of surly punk rock, ’70s psychedelia and dance party tomfoolery.
It’s hard to make heads or tails of the narrative, but who cares? Lyrical cryptic-ness combined with playful backup grunts and a bassline emulating totally danceable jab-jab-punch boxing rhythms just make the mysterious songs more intriguing. In “Witch Hunting Memoirs” they yell-sing, “The angels are retrieving what the muscles are receiving! S! T! A-K-E! In the ground is what I need…F! I! R-E-S! This might put some minds to rest!” It seriously sounds as if Fugazi took over a cheerleading squad.
General listeners will love “Lifecoach” because it flirts with synth pop—something like The Sounds’ “Song with a Mission.” But the real gems are more edgy. “Complexagon” begins with lumbering riffs, as if just waking from a deep sleep, before it tumbles into whip-cracking barks. And “St. John Bouvier” relies less on easy listening hooks and more on off-kilter, angular riffs and sassily creeping melodies.
It’s a booty-shakin’, smash-it-up collection of sonic shenanigans, with engaging lyrics to match. (Erika Fredrickson)
Mountain High plays the Badlander Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 9 PM with Pierced Arrows, Loving Thunder and Black Velvet Elvis. $8/$6 advance.