One To Watch - Mountain Mirrors


Asylum Acres

Massachusetts singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Sanders works under the moniker Mountain Mirrors.  Never heard of him?  That's OK because if he continues releasing the caliber of music found on his new EP, Asylum Acres, that might change very soon.  Last week's wide release of the powerful and moody 6 track set takes you to dark places without being overtly bleak.  It's in these same fields that many "acoustic" songwriters try to spin their own yarns but have a tendency to stumble through the abyss that they've created; Sanders moves bravely forward through that darkness into places one wouldn't expect but he moves with purpose and vision.  Like a man with no lantern but has taken the path home ten thousand times. On this release, Sanders evokes the better (read: earlier) part of the Alice In Chains catalogue.  Strong and smart songwriting, crisp production and fantastic arrangement make Asylum Acres a place that any fan of Layne Staley would want to visit.  It would be a disservice to everything else that's working here to just pigeonhole the project as a distant relative of acoustic grunge of years gone by (and by no means do I mean to do that) but the resemblance in vocal performance is simply uncanny.  Mountain Mirrors doesn't reinvent the wheel, said wheel just rolls a little faster with Asylum Acres. The opener 'Your Angels' jumps right at you with its colossal (yes, colossal!) acoustic strumming and forceful percussion.  My personal standout on the release is 'Full of Flies' with its soaring violin, played masterfully throughout the release by Kurt Baumer, adding something delicate to this very heavy collection.  The song chugs forward with Sanders' strong guitar work and then evaporates into a plucking string solo that sounds like the death rattle of some beautiful bird.  It's powerful stuff indeed.  There is also a clear prog-rock influence throughout that resonates with multiple listens.  The instrumental closer 'Purgatory Chasm' wouldn't sound completely out of place on a CAN b-sides compilation.  Sanders has a strong, if somewhat limited, vocal performance but it works very well for this project.  These songs all move in a brisk, linear fashion and the EP itself (at under 20 minutes) plays much more like a great short story than Moby Dick. Asylum Acres, while foreboding throughout, is actually much more of a study in what goes on inside of our own psyches and around us.  It has a dream-like quality that is pronounced and takes you to a place of solitude and at times, loneliness but it feels good to know that those sounds in your head are usually more important than the ones outside of it.  Sanders clearly has a vision and while it might not be for everyone; it is pronounced and bold.  This EP isn't a fun listen, per se, but it is one that will stay with you long after the music has faded away and that's a very good thing.   Get Asylum Acres from the Mountain Mirrors Bandcamp page or from iTunes.  

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