It 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.”
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.
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