Album Review: Deerhoof – Mountain Moves

By Nate Calvis, Contributor
[Joyful Noise; 2017]
Rating: 7/10

Key Tracks: “I Will Spite Survive”, “Ay That’s Me”, “Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You” 

San Francisco-based quartet Deerhoof formed in 1994 to become one of the most popular bands in the underground indie scene throughout the 2000s and 2010s. Their vision as a band is built around creativity; with 14 albums released since 1997, many different types of experimental works of art are folded into all of their music, which is clearly apparent in their newest record, Mountain Moves.

Every song on Mountain Moves flows together very effectively, creating an elegant masterpiece for die-hard fans. There are melodies from numerous genres, constituting their most experimental release yet. Almost every song could be classified in a different way and no songs are too similar. Songs like “Your Distopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You” has hints of old school hip-hop, thanks to Queens rapper Awkwafina having a feature. An upbeat tempo and playful demeanor create a feeling you can definitely vibe to, and the lyrics become more and more infectious with every listen. Deerhoof’s indie rock tone makes a familiar appearance, staying true to their roots with the song “I Will Spite Survive”. The song leads in with a catchy guitar and drum combo that starts off strong from the start and stays strong till the end, as you’ll find yourself dancing throughout the whole song.

The album even features a short minute long cover of Violetta Parra’s “Gracias a la Vida”, which detours into a dreamy alternative detour from the original artist’s five-minute version. Deerhoof only uses this short snippet as an interlude between songs to continue the flow of the album, but nevertheless, the execution is spot on and it fits very nicely. Other genre appearances include experimental pop as seen in “Con Sordino” and jazz influences from Matana Roberts on the album’s title track. There’s a wide range of melodies and genres covered, and there should be no excuse as to why any music lover should not give this album a shot.

Despite Mountain Moves‘ boldness, it experimentally contrasts from their previous releases, which can lose the focus of casual listeners. Some parts of the album seem to lack any sort of rhythm, which can make it hard for some to see any sense of musical thinking when hearing them.

Many of the songs on Mountain Moves are directly related to the 2016 presidential election, which is what drove Deerhoof to write Mountain Moves in the way that they did. The electoral success of the Republican party motivated the group to give their newly established album a standpoint that recognizes them to stand with the resistance, advocating for the Women’s March and similar protests. Deerhoof poured their beliefs out into this album in hopes that it was something that their audience could stand behind and support, which is a bold move. Everything that encompasses Mountain Moves as a musical work of art, from the experimental contrast between each song to the half a dozen featured artists that help spice things up, is what fabricates it to receive the score it deserves.

Listen here:

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