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Wednesday October 22nd 2014

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Ears & Fingers 7/3/14

by Jason Leger

Mastodon-Once More ‘Round the Sun
Initially, Mastodon was a band that was difficult for me to get into for a couple of reasons. Primarily because I made a conscious decision to give up on finding new artists I enjoy within the walls of the ‘hard rock’ genre. There were still plenty of hard rock bands I enjoyed from my angstier days as a teenager, but I had found the genre offered me very little as I got older. Secondly, as a drummer, their drummer annoyed the hell out of me. He takes every opportunity to drag out his fills, and it initially drove me insane. Once or twice is all right, but have some rhythmic tact.

For Mastodon, it became a question of proximity and company. It seems easy to assume that when there is a genre saturated with bands, at least a few of them are doing things intelligently and properly, sometimes it just takes Wayne Coyne to make it obvious. A couple of years ago, Coyne appeared on a cover Mastodon did of Flaming Lips’ song ‘A Spoonful Weighs a Ton,’ and it was done masterfully. Around the same time, Mastodon released a split EP with Feist, upon which the two covered one another’s songs. This was also masterfully done. Taking this into consideration, I looked into Mastodon’s 2011 album “The Hunter,” and was actually very surprised at how smart it is and how easy it is to get caught up in.

Now, the band has returned with “Once More ‘Round the Sun,” an album that is much simpler than the majority of Mastodon’s output, but still highly technical and very intelligent. After spending a good portion of their early career writing winding tales of mystical realms, it has become obvious the band just want to be known for playing heavy, catchy music, and this album is a very strong push for them. Most of the album rides high on dueling sing/scream vocals and visceral guitar lines on top thunderous bass and frenetic—though still occasionally annoying—drum patterns. However, there is a point in the album where paying attention becomes a tad of a chore, as a few songs become a bit drudged in self-indulgence and prog-rock, making the whole work a little unbalanced. Fortunately, most of the songs aren’t long enough to become uninteresting or very tiresome. By no means should this detract from giving “Once More ‘Round the Sun” a fair listen and chance, as Mastodon are reclaiming a genre that isn’t really known for its intelligence or variety. “Once More ‘Round the Sun” is out now via Reprise Records.

Track of the Week: Delta Spirit-Patriarch
This week, among the all too common money requests from Albanian princes, I got a pleasant surprise in my inbox: Delta Spirit has a new album on the horizon. I have no idea how this knowledge evaded me for so long, but I welcome it with open arms. The band released three new songs that are available on iTunes right now. The strongest of the three is ‘Patriarch,’ a driving tune that really exemplifies Matt Vasquez’s ability to make an audience hang on his every word. The other two songs, ‘Push It’ and actual lead single ‘From Now On,’ are nothing to sleep on either, so I strongly recommend checking them out, as you can get all three immediately with a pre-order. New album “Into the Wide” is due out September 9 via Dualtone Records.