Tenth Mountain Division- Butte La Rose review

Tenth Mountain Division Butte La Rose TMDtunes.com

“Much like their Colorado predecessors, Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, and Yonder Mountain String Band, they defy simple categorization; instead they reference their musical history with their high-energy shows as they blaze new musical paths every night.  As they do so they have become the new voice of the Colorado music scene, taking their Ski-party sound around the country and making every show feel like a night in the mountains.”

Tim Newby: Author of ‘Bluegrass in Baltimore’ & ‘Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival’

When someone else already has, as Newby does above, one might as well just copy and paste the ideal description of a band not previously encountered.

Without the ‘grass connections the referenced bands possess, Tenth Mountain Division also reminds me of Acoustic Syndicate, the Black Crowes, and Edmonton heroes Ayla Brook and the Sound Men. Defying genre, they just deliver good grooves and fine songs.

Butte La Rose is full of both, from the lively opener “Hot Sweaty South” to the closing darkness of “Big Blue Sky.” While there is plenty of guitar, drums, and mandolin, the band also inserts a bit of synthesized percussion, as on “Sad Summer.” These elements may further confound listeners who hold tight to ‘Thou shalts’ within roots music (pointing at self, there), but these do not detract from the group’s core sound which is expansive Americana.

“Highland Morning” has a gentle, breezy feel augmented by the lead vocals of honey-voiced Andrew Cooney. The meandering “Burning Heart” and “Drown You With the Bottle,” a fine ‘you’re gone and I still love you’ ode, are additional songs that capture attention from first listen. “Got Too Excited,” augmented by horns, is a standout number bordering on rarified Night Sweats soul.

The instrumental “Spring Chicken” takes us on a wee journey, while “Get Out of My Head” and “Girl Like You,” the album’s poppiest song, cause listeners to lean in to catch lyrical and melodic nuance. With four—count ‘em four—lead vocalists—Campbell Thomas (various keyboards) sings three, MJ Ouimette (guitar) two, Winston Heuga (mandolin) one, and Cooney (bass and guitar) four—there is great variety in the approaches Tenth Mountain Division have at their disposal.

Produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, the album has an acoustic, Americana feel while being decidedly non-acoustic. The instruments are nicely layered, coming together to present a unified, compelling blanket of sound.

An unexpected gem arrived in my mailbox last month; I advise you to give Butte La Rose a listen, if you are so inclined toward rock-based Americana roots.

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