Secret Mountains: Kaddish
Here's one vote for Secret Mountains being indie-Baltimore's current most likely to succeed act. The five-piece, formed from the ashes of local ensemble the Owls Go, has created the sort of rapturous, deeply considered debut that shows a group of musicians out-of-the-gate ablaze--analogous to Wye Oak/Monarch's If Children. Somewhat a product, it feels, of the freak-folk implosion and its Animal Collective aftermath--e.g., weird folk-based music finding its mooring and turning visceral and even catchy--the laconic yet expansive Kaddish lopes along in sampled nature sounds and assorted atmospheric oddness, rolling and wistful guitar melodies, drowsy tempos, and languid and lovely vocals from Kelly Laughlin that build into stunning multi-part harmonies. Kaddish is, in short, irresistible. Its climaxes feel like they could tear a hole in the sky, and its meditations could sooth the damned. The heavy stomp and gracefully bent guitar notes of closer "I Have Been Awake" preface an absolute earthquake of a climax, trailing off in a last few measures of hush. Yet nothing of all these shifting dynamics feel rushed or forced, rather more like a mountain stream turned waterfall under gravity. Impressive, to say the least.