Mad About Mountains – Harlaz

March 5, 2014
by Tjeerd van Erve

This weekend I had a family trip to Belgium. We visited Antwerp. A trip that (of course) was comprised of long hours of Studio Brussels, my favorite radio station. Many good songs passed, I loved the late Sunday evening hours with Duyster the most.

A radio show that, over the years, has introduced me to some of the finer low-paced, moody and dark music. From Murcof to Damien Jurado to give an idea of the range of the program. And it was this Sunday that I was reminded of this record I had received earlier this year, Harlaz. A small gem that proves that you don’t need to turn to The Men or any other American to get some darn fine Americana. Piet De Pessemier, the singer-songwriter behind Mad About Mountains obviously has a love for Neil Young, evident from his style of singing and the atmosphere he builds with his tunes.

Small, but effective songs that use little instruments to set the tone. Sometimes just piano and some guitar static in the distance is all this Belgian band needs to get the right feel. In that respect, Mad About Mountains also reminds of early My Morning Jacket*, Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel, applying a new drive to that sweet and comforting southern rock sound, perhaps a bit rougher around the edges.

Surely it won’t be the most original sound you’ll hear these days, but well-performed Americana is timeless…and so is the sound of Mad About Mountains‘s second LP. It delivers a lovely touch on soft spring Sunday evenings, especially with ‘Down The River Home’, a duet with Myrthe Luyten of Astronaute. As I was driving back home Sunday night, it was this song that warmed my car speakers.

* Not the My Morning Jacket that fucks up Songs: Ohia‘s ‘Farewell Transmission’ on the Jason Molina tribute. Heck, hell, what were they thinking?!?

The debut album can be listened to here:

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