Bottlecap Mountain: Fib Factory

The album opens with “Loser’s Blues,” reminiscent of Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town” in the first 30 seconds, before the whole band comes in. The song still rides comfortably in the Alt-Country lane after that, with the protagonists celebrating how far they’ve fallen, rather than risen: “And along the way, you’ll find that it’s alright…and along the way, you’ll find that it’s true…till then, you must trust that you’re in for the good fight…” The people in the song are “pluggin’ along,” and while they may be doing so on self-destruct autopilot, it’s still a reason to sing.

“Kool” has a bit of late 70s / early 80s Mink DeVille swagger, energy, and storytelling style. Staccato bursts of rhythm guitar in the verses flows into more fluid playing in the chorus.

“Mortals Of Love” may sound more familiar to fans of the band who have been around for a while, a melancholy, laid-back ballad with a perfect blend of acoustic and electric guitars.

“Tin Can Belief” is a Petty-ish electric gallop…maybe the “Full Moon Fever” lyrical tip of the hat a couple of tracks ago was no accident. It’s a song that incorporates what the band does best, reflective passages that morph into a burst of more energetic, anthemic playing.

“Mr. Mouse” has a bit of a sixties / seventies Brit Rock feel to it, the kind of song Jeff Lynne or Roy Wood might have explored, some whimsy and eccentricity which, coming mid-album, is a nice “halftime show” as we head into the second half.

“Big Dumb” opens with some nice, ringing, jangly guitar, which…similar to the opening track…moves into full band territory. The song stops at around 1:25, giving way to some backwards, echo guitar for the finale, displaying the band’s long term love affair with the Revolver ere of rock history.

“Tsar Tsar” continues the trend of reflection / introspection…”I think I’m losin’ it, but I ain’t gonna pout no, no, no…cause there ain’t no use to it…” And herein lies a big piece of this band’s “voice,” their lyrical stance…like a lot of human beings, the heroes and heroines in these songs KNOW they’re messed up, they KNOW they’ve made bad choices, but instead of the songs becoming vanilla anthems of breaking the chains and finding true happiness at last, they sort of shrug their shoulders and say “What the hell” and keep moving forward, the best they can. THAT shows significantly more insight into the human condition to the empty “victory anthems” some artists peddle.

“Captain Boothroyd” is another Beatle-y track, sort of Lennon-ish, with big, fat, ominous “I Want You, She’s So Heavy” chords at the beginning and throughout.

“It’s Nothing New” is another Alt-Countryish, carefree ramble, nicely shifting the tone after the heaviness of the previous track.

“Rip Off Songs” is an acid-tongued send-up poseurs, “You look real cool when you’re smoking onstage, and then you rip off songs…well, let’s not sing along…” I’ve been around the block enough times to have experienced what Stewart’s singing about here…and yeah, in the final analysis, true music lovers DO appreciate the artist who is creating art, rather than churning out repetitive, amateurish junk.

The album closes with “Zihuatanejo,” a song with little calypso-ish, reggae-ish touches. It reinforces the thinking in the previous track…it would be unbelievably easy for this band to get by on retreads of past songs, but that’s not what they’re about. And after the first minute, the song melts into a really sweet acoustic piece, goes back to the style it began with, and then it fades, as the sun sets on another Bottlecap Mountain album. This is a band worth following. They’ll surprise you every time, and pleasantly so.