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Blurry Blue Mountain (Special Edition)

Giant Sand

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Album Review

Howe Gelb has a remarkable ability to sound like a master of his craft at the same time that he resembles a backporch picker who is paying as much attention to his iced tea as his music; Gelb can seem focused and casual at once, and he shows off this talent to its best advantage of Giant Sand's 2010 album Blurry Blue Mountain. Twenty-five years after releasing Giant Sand's first album, Gelb doesn't pull any new tricks out of his sleeves here, but given the many stylistic detours of Giant Sand's history, he can cover plenty of ground while still investigating his established sound, and Gelb and his latest band of collaborators are in truly fine fettle. Blurry Blue Mountain sounds both loose and tight; while nothing seems overworked, Gelb and his musicians (particularly Peter Dombernowsky on drums and Thoget T. Lund on bass) mesh precisely and put these songs on their feet with confidence and casual grace, from the loping seven-minute meditation of "Monk's Mountain" and the late-night barroom lament of "Chunk of Coal" to the chaotic, guitar-shot rock of "Thin Line Man," the stark, late-night philosophizing of "No Tellin'" and the punchy but high-strutting blues of "Brand New Swamp Thing." Blurry Blue Mountain is an album full of heart, soul, and wit, and this music confirms that no one does quite what Howe Gelb can do with such remarkably innate grace and feel; Gelb's songs find pretty remarkable things in the odd details of simple lives, and there some very real magic to be found in the elegant force of Blurry Blue Mountain.

Biography

Formed: 1982 in Tuscon, AZ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Giant Sand was the primary outlet for the stylistic curveballs and sun-damaged songcraft of Howe Gelb, a Pennsylvania-born singer/guitarist who formed the four-piece Giant Sandworms after relocating to Tucson, Arizona in the mid-'70s. After releasing the EP Will Wallow and Roam After the Ruin in 1980, Gelb fired everyone but bassist Scott Gerber (although founding guitarist Rainer Ptacek returned to the...
Full Bio