Young Mountain - A Billion Times Around
Record Label: Get Better! Records
Release Date: May 29th, 2011
College seems to have an interesting rap when it comes to music.
Of course, you have a large handful of success story bands as varied as Ra Ra Riot, REM, Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Radiohead all getting their start in college. And, even more obviously, the idea of breaking free from college education to a life of even bigger parties and becoming a rockstar is the modernized American Dream for any band kid. But, upon arrival to most colleges, the kind hearted rock musician will, for the most part, be surrounded by either guitar virtuosos that could only hold their own in a Phish or Dave Matthews cover band, lacrosse players that learned major chords and a handful of John Mayer songs or the jazz players on a never-ending ego trip among other mind altering trips. It’s a miracle college music is born drowned in a sea of “Santeria”-covering douchebaggery.
But, against all odds, Young Mountain is a surviving college band, flying their freaky folk punk flag to the delight of basement-show aficionados everywhere. Hailing from Keene, New Hampshire, Young Mountain has rebranded the typical college band name by starting Get Better! Records, giving a home to equal minded, underground folk and pop punk bands with distribution and the two-day Get Better! Fest in April. Young Mountain themselves have had an equally colorful history, starting in late 2009 with four freshmen at Keene State College wanting to add punk to the town’s prevalent folk scene. Several EPs and east coast tours later, Young Mountain have emerged a three-piece with their debut full-length, A Billion Times Around. Billion Times is a 27-minute invitation into the mind of a typical college kid, mixing socially and politically charged anthems (album opener “PC Doesn’t Stand For Personal Computer Anymore”) with pure jittery wit (“I Hope Cannibals Turn You Into Stew”, which should become the breakup song most songwriters wish they wrote), thoughts on love and girls (“Your New Boyfriend Wears an Amon-Amarth T-Shirt”) and complete drunken revelry (album closer and favorite, “Silly, Staggering and Happy”) The album’s core thought process though lies in the middle of the record during “All Growed Up”, where singer Noah Therriault delivers in his signature Mountain Goats-gone-punk vocals that he “didn’t want to be a kid, but didn’t want to grow to be a man”. Amidst presenting their beliefs, goofiness and two minute pop/folk-punk blasts of sound in the first half, Young Mountain steadily reveal an achy-hearted second half detailing blurring nights at parties, friends in jail, death and life in general as an mess of events and people. Without ever slowing the pace of the tracks, Therriault conveys in his words and voice a sense of instability on a sugar high, screaming out lines like “Got a letter in the mail, said all my friends were stuck in jail...driving drunk, driving drunk” on the title track with feverish fury and excitement.
A Billion Times Around is as much noisy fun as it is inspiring, showing the band not as stereotypical anarchists or copycats of other bands, but as just a bunch of kids throwing their beliefs, thoughts, and selves on the table in a therapeutic release of punk. The record, trailing off with “Silly” conflicting with parties, what one stands for, and a father’s imagined disapproval, leaves the listener not just wondering what will become of the band and their sound, but what will become of these average people in the band as well.