Everest: On Approach

Written by May 17th, 2011 at 7:00 am

Everest
On Approach
(Vapor/Warner Bros.)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

On Approach is the sophomore full-length from L.A. alt-rock hodgepodgers Everest. These five veterans have played in and out what seems like every band in the state—vocalist/guitarist/drummer Russell Pollard has been a part of notable acts like Sebadoh and Folk Implosion—and they have a sound as eclectic as their personnel. Bursting with blues-rock intensity one minute then soothing with acoustic grace the next, they are sonically fidgety and eager to please in just about every way possible.

Opener “Let Go” teases a dense, funky direction: razor-sharp guitars bobbing infectiously while a warped disco bass pulses underneath. It’s top-notch headphone stuff if you’re in the mood to pick apart the layers, but Pollard’s way with a melody makes it perfect for a windows-down cruise. But just when you’re starting to get a feel of things, they throw out “I’ve Had This Feeling Before,” a drony, muscular bar-rock romp with whiplash guitars and a My Morning Jacket-style intensity. There’s no harm in eclecticism—”Feeling” and the pumping, arena atmospherics of “Keeping the Score,” which follows, round out an opening trio of well-rounded gems that demonstrate pretty much everything you could ask for in a rock band: hooks, energy, studio finesse, creativity, and a spirit to tackle any idea that comes their way.

Unfortunately, the momentum slips a tad after that initial wave of euphoria. While tuneful and well-arranged, acoustic ruminations like “Unfortunate Sea” and “Fallen Feather” feel less vibrant, partly because the expansive, full-band attack (their greatest strength) is pushed aside in favor of intimacy, which isn’t their strong suit. Because they’re so eclectic, because they have so much personal history with rock music, they don’t necessarily have a clear identity—which means they better be able to sing well and play the hell out of their instruments. They most definitely can, and On Approach‘s finest moments are the ones where it sounds like the boys are all there in the same room, chasing the wafts of sounds as they fly around.

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