If Speck Mountain’s first two albums sound like they were recorded underwater, their third studio release, Badwater, finds the band washed ashore onto a dusty, sun-bleached desert. Under this big new sky, guitars are tighter and percussion is prismatic: white heat makes white light. True to Speck Mountain’s sound, Marie-Claire Balabanian’s soulful, breathy vocals heat the record, providing the warm tonal blanket to co-writer Karl Briedrick’s swirling, luminous
guitars––both swelling together in search of some distant release.
The three years since the release of the band’s second album, Some Sweet Relief, found Briedrick and Balabanian undertaking journeys of personal transformation. “We went through a couple of years of not being able to do anything. Then we got the right band, and that changed everything,” confesses Briedrick. That “right band” consists of former Chin Up Chin Up drummer Chris Dye and former Pentecostal church organist Linda Malonis. Jolted by this generous new sound, the quartet recorded at John McEntire’s Soma EMS in Chicago, where
McEntire also mixed many of the tracks. But ultimately, this is a sound that is all their own. It is a record of relationships ending, of what we find when absences are created, of renewal.
In this new landscape of cracked, brown earth, a steady gallop beats, a head-nodding amble. Feral, fleeting, wild electricity crackling in the air––a building heat in search of relief. No holding back. We are offered the redemptive baptism, like a coming desert downpour. Balabanian’s croon in the closing track of Badwater sounds off like an invocation: Lay down and watch the storm.
“The whole thing feels like a nice warm dream.” —Paste
Debut of track Slow So Long on MTV Hive.
“Speck Mountain’s session…must’ve come with a free flowing stock of valium and warm milk.” —Stereogum
Press by George Corona at Terrorbird Media
Badwater reviews, lovin’, and links
“Marie-Clare Balabanian and Karl Briedrick continue their wandering eyes and ways from the badlands and into the Badwaters where storms and elements test relationships and souls, and weary eyed quests for fresh visions present the group’s evolution from a duo to added recruits that deepen their mountainous, wild-western soundscapes.” - Impose Magazine
“The mix of Americana dust and dream-pop gauze has never sounded this strong.” - PopMatters
“The gloom-pop track, from their upcoming record Badwater, contains gauzy atmospherics, moody guitars, and tender vocals delivered with a lot of feeling.” - MTV Hive
Record of the week at Piccadilly Records (UK)
8/10 – PopMatters
“Speck Mountain rides the storm in a mood that downplays that concern, choosing to let whatever’s going to happen just go ahead and happen” - Daytrotter Session
“Whether the ephemeral smoulder of lo-fi opener Caught Up, or the dustbowl crush of Young Eyes it’s Balabanian’s weathered, yet still unmistakably smooth vocal around which their overriding enticement whirrs.” – Dots and Dashes
Uncut December 2012 Office Playlist
Magnet Run Honey Run B-side track premiere
“Song after song establishes a warm, sloppy groove within moments, wrapping itself around the listener like a warm fuzzy blanket. This is all good.” – PopMatters
“The acute time at which melancholia meets majesty, and is the enchanting sound of a band ever ascending toward the peak of their combined powers.” - Dots and Dashes (UK)
“Haunting security camera footage that echoes its melancholy vibe.” - Under the Radar
“Badwater is…a breathtaking release that’s as coherent as a whole as it is compelling in its every component” - Dots and Dashes (UK)
“Marie-Claire Balabanian and Karl Briedrick may not be from Chicago, but they have been based here for quite some time now. In fact, their moody, almost brooding sound, suggests they’ve been here all along” – Brooklyn Vegan & BV Chicago
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Slow So Long / Run Honey Run
Badwater / Young Eyes Theme
Some Sweet Relief