During the course of Nashville’s indie radio station Lightning 100’s battle of the bands, Music City Mayhem, listeners across the city became readily aware of local newcomers Mountains Like Wax. One of the smaller bands in the competition as far as fan bases and life span, the music of their debut EP, Tetralogy, started pushing them through each round of the competition, and eventually led to them being crowned champions, giving them a spot on the bill during the final day of the Live On the Green music festival in Nashville, TN, put on by Lightning 100, featuring big names like Young the Giant, Dawes, Børns, and Ben Harper, among others. Nashville’s music scene is exploding, offering a wide variety of genres, with some focus on the Indie Rock/Pop scene, Mountains Like Wax leads the way of a new crop of artists breaking through in the Music City. Now, in anticipation of their performance on September 3, we will revisit Tetralogy, which was released in November of 2015. Produced by John Potts and Quinn Erwin, Mountains Like Wax delivers a dynamic and moving EP that grabs your attention from the get go.
Tetralogy starts on its most energetic note with “Control”, introducing the signature ethereal guitar styles of guitarist/vocalist Mitchell Taylor and lead guitarist Samuel Katz. Taylor’s vocals drive the emotion of the record from the start, which deals with the struggles of growing up in today’s world, and trying to find some hope through those tough times. “Control” is a good first impression for the band both musically and lyrically, offering considerable upside in each. It hits hard and fast, while still being able to introduce the somewhat somber lyrical content.
“Contingency Theory” is the heart of the record, and boasts the best of the drive and the best of the emotion of Mountains Like Wax. Taylor proves a strong voice, capable of fully developing the emotions of the lyrics about the unknowns of relationships. “Contingency Theory” is the most well rounded song on the EP, and really shows what kind of band Mountains Like Wax is going to be. The thoughtful production becomes readily apparent with little bursts of static conveying the “under construction” emotion of the song. It’s intentionally rough around the edges, which fully develops the emotion, and truly draws you in as a listener.
The third song, simply called “Untitled”, brings an Explosions in The Sky form of musical delivery, behind the incredibly emotive vocals from Taylor, who really stretches his talents both as a vocalist and a songwriter in this song. While not exactly a concept record, each song shares many themes and act almost as movements to a symphony. “Untitled” is a deep breath before the triumphant finale.
“The Runner” brings a theme of running full circle, and finds the protagonist at a place of understanding. Musically it builds throughout, until about two thirds of the way through when Taylor lets out an emphatic “Woo”, they let loose and close the record with their biggest moment. It continues to show the ability of the band to drive emotion musically as well as lyrically and vocally.
Tetralogy offers one of the strongest debut EP’s around. Mountains Like Wax delivers something wholly unique and familiar, by playing with storylines and themes that are incredibly poignant and relatable, while offering an emotional sound not offered by many. Listening to this feels personal, because it is. As is often the case with debut, these songs are the best they have to offer so far and have spent years developing this songs, and it shows. Taylor has a great ability at delivering honest emotion in his vocals and songwriting, combined with the pumping arrangements and unique guitar style and you have a really personal and emotionally driven record, that sticks with you long after it’s over. The new music industry thrives on the deeply personal, listeners want to feel a connection to the music, something that was lost for a little while there. Mountains Like Wax becomes a good example of a band that delivers a strong personal connection to listeners through every facet of their music.