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The Mountain Movers
We've Walked In Hell And There Is Life After Death
Safety Meeting Records

It's tough to tell if this debut album from a Connecticut band headed by a school teacher might be a concept album. Nearly half of the 12 songs are named for the devil, and the others are rife with images of God, death, and the afterlife, but any thematic device uniting them in meaning remains too loose to pin down. In "What The Devil Wants The Devil Takes" it sounds like singer-songwriter Daniel Greene is reaching for something meaningful with lines like "I used to talk to God alone in my backyard / I was hoping to see a fire in a tree," but beyond the obvious Christian imagery it's unclear what he's trying to tell the listener.

It's also tough to pin down a style, although that difficulty isn't nearly as problematic. At times We've Walked in Hell… reminds of The Beatles, but more often it's a sort of Of Montreal without daring. Ultimately, Greene lacks the vocals to deserve comparison to either artist, though, and when, on "This Last Hope", he bleats out "This last hope somehow vanished down inside / when the one before that lasted such a very long time," it becomes clear that The Mountain Movers' strengths must lie somewhere other than vocals or lyricism.

Those strengths are easily found in the musicians (there are more than a dozen beyond Greene), who lend vibrant textures to the album. The keys, violin and horns that power the chorus of "I Met The Devil On A Bus" are beautifully played and the parts well-conceived. The horns at times burst into songs with a sense of relief and respite akin to the first sun beams of springs. Between Peter Wasilewski on sax and trombonist Chris Rhodes, players on We've Walked in Hell… have also performed with heavy-hitters like Less Than Jake, The Toasters and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It's fair to call them ringers, and they come through for The Mountain Movers, lending Memphis soul to the burning "Bombshelter" and a haunting wave of ominous doubt to "The Devil is Alive."

None of the other performances are bad either, but delicate keys, spacey pedal steel and solid rhythms can't make up for Greene's shortcomings as a singer and songwriter. It's unfortunate, because it's clear that if we could hear what these musicians were trying to say, it would likely be worth listening too.

-Jake McCarthy

Track Listing:
1. Leave A Light On
2. Lost
3. I Met The Devil On A Bus
4. This Last Hope
5. Bombshelter
6. What the Devil Wants The Devil Takes
7. The Devil Is Alive
8. The Afterlife
9. This Man Is Not Yet Dead
10. Not Quite Yet
11. Just a Few
12. The Devil Always Wins

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