By: Peter Gaston
Making a record that sounded anything like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or their peers was way uncool in 1993; ask Stone Temple Pilots. It was still pretty uncool in 1999; ask Creed. But in 2005, we have Nine Black Alps, a quartet of young ruffians from Manchester, England, whose self-titled debut EP essentially voids that musical restraining order. Sure, they've got naivety on their side -- their bassist was six years old when Nevermind rocked our worlds -- but there's no doubting this band's innate potential.
Although album opener "Cosmopolitan" kicks off with a spare riff and drumroll that fall right into the current Gang of Four-aping trend, the Alps quickly brush away the pretense and unfurl a punishing two-and-a-half minute romp, replete with a bruising and grim grunge-era chorus: "You spend the night / I'll take my life / We'll close our eyes / We'll be dead by sunrise." Later, the band channels Vitalogy-era Pearl Jam, merging a taut, explosive verse with a lofty, glistening chorus on "Over the Ocean," and singer Sam Forrest's voice, even when deconstructed by fuzzy effects on "Shot Down," maintains a youthful sweetness that might unintentionally reveal the band's age but never undermines their vigor. On acoustic closer "Attraction," Forrest channels Kurt Cobain channeling David Bowie during Nirvana's legendary MTV Unplugged appearance, and an unsure slide guitar accentuates a tentative but promising foray into more serious songwriting.
Nine Black Alps are no strangers to the States, having recorded their debut full-length in Los Angeles late last year; the album, Everything Is, saw its U.K. release last month. The band hits the road this summer for a number of U.S. dates in support of their EP, which is out today via Tiny Evil.
Nine Black Alps tour dates:
7/14, Toronto, ONT (El Mocambo)7/15, Philadelphia, PA (Khyber)7/16, Brooklyn, NY (Siren Festival)7/18, Boston, MA (Great Scotts) *7/19, New York, NY (Mercury Lounge) *7/21, Chicago, IL (Bottom Lounge)7/23, Denver, CO (Larimer Lounge) +7/26, San Diego, CA (Casbah)7/27, Los Angeles, CA (Spaceland) * 7/28, San Francisco, CA (Popscene)(* - with The Cribs) (+ - with Holly Golightly)