Sunday, June 12, 2011

Local Music Spotlight: Fire Mountain

“Fire Mountain makes real music,” states the Troy, Alabama-based group’s Facebook page. Like their contemporaries and occasional showmates Red Rover, the members of Fire Mountain yearn to create authenticity in their lyrics and sound.

“Real music makes you feel something. It elicits an emotional response which could be either positive or negative,” says lead singer and guitarist Perry Brown. “When music is 'real' you can tell that the artist really means what they are singing or playing and you can feel that. On some level you can relate to what they are saying no matter what it is.”

This emotional response is captivating and heart-wrenching at times, especially on songs such as “Fade,” which includes the line: “At sixteen you prepare for things/One of them sure ain’t death.”

The band (whose current lineup includes Brown, Adam Vinson on percussion and vocals, Walter Black on bass, and Bryan Segraves on keyboard) formed in late 2009 and performed its inaugural show at Eclipse Coffee and Books in Montevallo. Since then, the band has played several shows in Birmingham (Bottletree Café and Parkside Café) and Helena (La Reunion Coffee Company). Troy, Waverly, Wonderroot in Atlanta, and will be closing out their tour in Panama City.

They have been constantly touring in support of their debut EP Liars’ Cup

. The 5-song release showcases the band’s folk/rock sensibilities. The title track explores the transitions that occur in life and the idea that things don’t always turn out the way we want, especially when we make hasty compromises:

“Is faster really the best way to get it done?
Fast is only good if you're on the run.
We all got a twisted view of love.
If it's right, why do I feel wrong?”
While the harmony of Brown and Vinson suggests a strong Fleet Foxes influence, you can also clearly hear similarities to Ray Lamontagne in Brown’s voice. The energetic compositions and buildups (especially on standout track “Turn Around”) also reference Wilco, Iron and Wine, and Damien Rice.

“I think our biggest accomplishment has been the ability to be able to record and tour to promote this EP,” Brown says. “I know that might sound dumb, but most of us have full time jobs and it's just awesome for us to actually be able to keep plugging away at this dream we have without getting burned out on it.”

Become a fan of the band on Facebook or check out the band's main website (www.firemountainbandcom) for tour updates, new releases, and to purchase the EP.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Arthur Alligood: I Have Not Seen The Wind

Arthur Alligood’s latest record, I Have Not Seen the Wind, begins and ends with a request.

The first track “Show Some Heart” has Alligood or the character in the song asking someone in his life for a hint of affection, a glimmer of recognition. The final song “Come On Something” yearns for responses from equally important ideas and persons such as breakthroughs, new starts, and Jesus. The rest of the album that is sandwiched in between explores these hopes.

“There are lots songs about the brokenness that occurs in any relationship,” says Alligood, who makes his home in White House, Tennessee. “Some are more narrative based. Others are like conversations.”

“I love the idea of a record, a complete group of songs that tell a story from beginning to end,” he continues. “If each can stand on its own then it seems logical that grouped in the right fashion something even greater can be created.”

I Have Not Seen The Wind marks Alligood’s third full-length release, preceded by 2005’s Formerly, 2006’s Under the Grey, and 2009’s Full Circle EP, the latter of which was offered as a free download on

Alligood alternates between his patented folk/Americana and singer/songwriter tunes, equipped solely with his acoustic and the occasional background vocal, as well as pedal steel provided by producer Kenny Hutson (famous for his work with Over the Rhine and Vigilantes of Love) to more driving full-band alternative rock numbers.

He draws the foundation of his sound from a variety of older and modern influences such as songwriters David Bazan, Bill Malonee, Townes Van Zandt, Denison Witmer (to whom he bears a close vocal resemblance), Guy Clark, Lucinda Williams, and Thad Cockrell. He also receives inspiration from authors such as William Gay and Flannery O’Connor.

Hope in the face of doubt, struggle, and resistance is the air this record breathes. Through songs such as lead single “Keep Your Head Up” (Stop your fighting/let me do the fighting…I am, I am/I am much closer than your next breath) to “Turn It Over” with its chorus urging the listener past personal heartache and disappointment (Turn it over/ Find the other side/ And see it through).

“Piece Me Together” yearns for redemption and reconciliation, a chance to stop being alone (Like a lost child I have wandered, but in my heart now I know/I can't make it on my own). This song as well as “Gavel” and the title track reveal the poetic side of Alligood with a strong use of imagery and repetition:

“Can't judge the future by the past
Can't judge a moment by the one before
Can't judge a beggar cause he asks
Or a rich man who won't give to the poor”
- “Gavel”

“I've seen sunsets over the ocean
I've seen peace stay just out of hand
I've seen hearts wound one another, but I have not seen the wind”
-“I Have Not Seen The Wind”

A more layered and full sound comes to a head on songs such as the electric guitar and organ-soaked sound of “Make Her Smile” (a love song with imagery of journey to land from sea) and “Where The Storm Meets the Sun”, whose first few chords sound subtly like the beginning of REM’s “Losing My Religion” but transforms into a brighter-sounding tune based on “Sally Lloyd-Jones' take on the story of the Great Deluge.

“I wanted to make the greatest record of all time. This is how I have to look at it,” Alligood says. “I don't think I made the greatest record of all time. Instead I may have made a good record or maybe a great one. I'll let others decide. I am very proud of it though. More so than anything I have ever done.”

Despite his personal feelings about the record, Alligood accomplishes his mission of presenting a complete and comprehensive record from beginning to end. Each song holds weight and possesses purpose. Each one stands the test of time…and the wind.

Check out the record at