by Jeff – guest contributor
Chris Cote doesn’t want you to be comfortable. Not with any musical or emotional outlook you might be floating in. Not for long, anyway.
On his newest album, Almanac Mountain Is In Like With You, Cote goes for glitch-coustic melancholy soaked in beakers of media-savvy absurdity and self-aware unease. It’s quite an unusual yet entertaining statement.
With a background in classical composition, Cote brings a creativity and strong backbone to pieces that might not have bloomed so strongly for lesser musicians. Breathy acoustic guitar, lo-fi beats, plaintive vocals, and early Pink Floyd fuzziness combine to paint saber-sharp commentaries on “might’ve happened” relationships. Chris doesn’t sound sad, though. He’s contemplative, if anything. Observational. Winking like a jocular owl.
Of note on Almanac Mountain’s newest album is the production quality. Cote’s vocals sound stronger and more sonically varied than ever before, which brings greater intimacy to this particular album. It’s like he’s sitting there in front of you on some beat-up 1970s plaid couch playing his guitar, cuing his sad clown orchestra, and loving it.
“Like I care, like I don’t, like you keep my heart afloat,” he sings on “My Blue Sky”, the most bare and heartfelt song on the album. Cote’s been playing it in concert for years around New Hampshire and Cape Cod, bringing goosebumps to listeners’ necks, but this is the best version Almanac Mountain fans will likely hear. It’s an intensely beautiful gasp of honesty.
“Car Crash,” “Promise Me,” and “Orison,” the synth-punched opening track, are more upbeat offerings while “The Old Carvings,” a dour, saxophone-infused romp with a coda that echoes in your head like a humming saw after the song ends, scours the modern subtleties of thought and pain.
Overall, Almanac Mountain Is In Like With You is a searching, fuzzy-headed, lyrically precise stab into reason and wincing memory. Yet from start to finish the album is unnervingly optimistic, even tunefully amusing.
Funny how that sometimes happens.
Almanac Mountain is In Like With You is available for purchase on the band’s bandcamp