Bottlecap Mountain are Stewart Gersmann (songwriting, vocals & guitar); Yvonne Love (keyboards), Bruce Earl (guitar) and Chris Stangland (bass).
The title track “Dismayland” opens the album, and what awaits you over the course of its 40 minutes is the spiritual core of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse persona, the swagger and sneer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and everything you ever loved about the Uncle Tupelo / Wilco / Son Volt Alt-Country triumvirate. The songs are well written, the band has a keen instinct for pacing the album with full-bore roots rockers and more laid-back tracks, and it’s a sheer joy ride from start to finish.
The track “Dismayland” is the one that will immediately make you feel The Horse, but it also has the world-weary, defiant sound of Tom Petty. The metaphor of the track, of course, is brilliant…the “Magic Kingdom” sits in a world that in modern times is far from “magic”…the middle of the song will make the hair on the back of your neck as Stewart speaks the lyrics over an elegiac organ backing from Yvonne: “I woke up the other day, and I saw the sunrise, and I thought to myself that everything was gonna be OK…and for a moment, I could listen and I could breathe, and I could feel that everything was gonna be OK…you know, we get so hung up on the doom, and the gloom, and down here in Dismayland there’s nowhere to go but UP…and I’m goin’ UP…” The organ continues for a bit and then a crescendo reminiscent of the brilliant Garth Hudson spiral from “The Genetic Method” into “Chest Fever” on their Rock of Ages album, and the band thunders back in all of their Ragged Glory.
“The Big Sleep” begins with sparse percussion and what sounds like a xylophone, and little by little the intensity builds in the second minute of the song, with glorious, fat, resonant electric guitar chords. This is where you’ll hear the Uncle Tupelo / Wilco / Sun Volt influence.
“Golden Heart” opens with rumbling guitar and bass, lilting organ, and propulsive percussion. plus some effective stop / start dynamics. On this track, the previously mentioned influences are joined by a dash of anthem-driven 80s bands like The Alarm and Big Country.
“Complements and Such” opens with acoustic guitar and blossoms into a tasty Alt-Country track, with the emphasis on Country, and echoes of Steve Earle and one of the band’s contemporaries, fellow son of Texas Bruce Smith. On the chorus, especially the chord changes, you’ll hear how deeply the influence of Buddy Holly runs right up to the present day. There’s even a little early Fab Four flavor to round things out nicely.
“King of Almost” is a jaunty rocker, injecting some power pop into the band’s other influences.
“Cry, Goodbye” finds us back in Petty territory, and you can really understand why Tom chose to produce the late-period albums by Del Shannon, because that’s the dynamic that drives this one, along with some subtle Sir Doug and Augie Meyers-flavored keyboards.
“Poirot Jones” is another fine slice of Lone Star State balladeering, with a nod to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” A bittersweet track with fantastic guitar accents.
“You Float Me” is a mid-tempo track…”When I’m older, would you want me, would you want me to stay, in your life, when I’m crazy, crazier than today…” It’s a pure, stark, and honest pledge of undying love, a real gem in an album filled with them.
“Metamorphosis” is another mid-tempo track with more Beatles accents and a great, chiming guitar solo in the bridge.
The album closes with “Cupboard,” which begins as an acoustic-driven track that builds into one of the most dynamic guitar solos on the album. It’s all about pacing, and this is certainly a band that knows when to turn it up, and turn it down.
If anything I’ve written about here resonates with you, this album is a “sure thing,” an extremely worthy addition to your music collection.