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Perfect Album of 2014: Red Mountain’s Scowl Lightly

PDDPerfectAlbumAwardLogo2014It was actually a late-2013 release, but Red Mountain’s debut album Scowl Lightly captured the most attention in 2014 among voters in Perfect Duluth Day’s poll to name the top local album of the year. Issued on vinyl and compact disc by Duluth’s Chaperone Records, Scowl Lightly brought band leader Anton Jimenez-Kloeckl’s evolving musical project out of the shadows of the weirdo-experimental scene to top billing at local festivals — with enough performance antics to proudly retain the weirdo label. In a review for the independent music website Wordkrapht, Ellen Vaagen writes that Scowl Lightly is “a baroque pop gem spattered with claps, bells, trumpet, and saxophone floating on a clear stream of fancy-free fun” and the band’s live performances “are a fantasia of dancing, face paint, feathers, masks, and flamboyant sequin costumes that encourage crowds to let their freak flags fly.”

Members of Red Mountain accept the PDD Award for Perfect Album of 2014 at the Red Herring Lounge. (Photo by Steve Ash)

Members of Red Mountain accept the PDD Award for Perfect Album of 2014 at the Red Herring Lounge. (Photo by Steve Ash)

Red Mountain 2013 band photo Red Mountain - Scowl Lightly LP cover Anton Jimenez-Kloeckl 2014

The album’s first single, “Put Me Through,” is “a classic example of the creative blend of sound that is Red Mountain,” according to Vaagen. “Shadowy, doo-wop style back-up vocals mix with candid and emotionally charged lyrics to paint a nostalgic effigy of betrayal and learning from the past. In true Red Mountain style, all of this is planted into a dizzying melting pot of beautiful trumpet swills, electric and upright bass lines, and popping percussive undulations.”

In the final round of voting on PDD’s poll, Scowl Lightly garnered just shy of 41 percent of the support in a three-way race. Wolf Blood’s self-titled debut — the album so nice they released it twice; first on Duluth’s Heat Street Tapeworks in February, then overseas on Holland-based Burning World Records in October — came in second place with just over 34 percent of the vote. Ire Wolves’ The Accetic pulled an even 25 percent of the vote.

2013 winner: Ryan Van Slooten’s Victory March
PDD Awards Index

1 Comment

mole Z

about 5 years ago

I rarely am concerned about who wins these polls and much like this poll, it usually seems to be an embarrassment of riches situation. However, in this case, I am really happy to see this album get a little extra recognition.  Many of these songs have been regulars in my listening rotation for all of 2014 and now into the first part of 2015.  Definitely one of the best first releases by a Minnesota band in quite some time.  Congrats to Red Mountain and Thank You to Chaperone records for offering great local music on vinyl.

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