By Surprise – Mountain Smashers By Surprise – Mountain Smashers


Do you remember Knapsack? It’s all right if you don’t. They played a reasonably straightforward strum und crunch emotive (no, not emo) rock that was the standard for labels like Alias Records during the gloriously indulgent abstractions of the 90s. What made them special, though, was this “DUN-un, DUN-un, DUN-un, DUN-un” hook (a beefy nod to the bridge from “Package Thief” [which is, incidentally, one of the only things I still know how to play on guitar]) that made you want to drop out of college and love someone or get drunk or just be…you know…awesome.

And I haven’t heard it in ten years, maybe? It’s not even in The Jealous Sound. But it is in “Mostly Harmless”, the third track on By Surprise’s positively fucking delightful new record Mountain Smashers and that’s pretty much the best musical resurgence of the year.

Unfortunately, though, “Mostly Harmless” is the only song to feature that glorious little nugget but it’s enough to get me listening and the more I’ve heard this album the more it unfolds as vitalized slice of nerd rock history.

A little sweet. A little goofy. A whole lot imbued with the deep, gleeful reverence of a four-eyed boy rereading Douglas Adams while listening to his favorite late night college radio DJ.

Actually, Mountain Smashers owes a tremendous debt to Mr. Adams whose books are referenced in no fewer than two of the albums tracks (“Mostly Harmless”, “So Long and Thanks for All the Sharkjaws”). Yes, you can check the joy gang choruses of Fang Island (“Books by Thoreau”), the tender half-balladry of Mimas (“Fountain Splashers”) or the thin-armed triumph of the, aforementioned, Knapsack (pretty much everything else though not as awesomely as in “Mostly Harmless”) but without the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy (all five books) to inform them, these boys’d never have played a note.

And I’m glad they did. Not just because Mr. Adams idiosyncratic sense of narrative play guided By Surprise to write a genuinely fun record but because, in doing so, they’ve shown the world that it’s possible to be literate without being a pretentious dick.

And, for that, I thank them.

By Surprise - Mountain Smashers, reviewed by Charles on 2011-06-28T12:47:40+00:00 rating 3.7 out of 5



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