Listening to the Lexie Mountain Boys makes one wonder if music just didn’t up and die sometime in the past decade. It’s as if a bomb leveled Baltimore, killing nearly everyone and their recorded music with one fell swoop, save for a small tribe of B-more club obsessives and a fading collective memory. From this post-apocalyptic scrap heap might arise something like Lexie Mountain Boys’ “future music.”
The five women that comprise the group–Lexie Mountain, Sam Garner, Amy Waller, Amy Harmon, and Katherine Hill–shuffle, stomp, and improvise sprawling, self-contained harmonic vocal arrangements that draw off what feels like the whole of American music: from club music to girl groups to post-everything avant-garde composition. Their spontaneous eruptions bridge the joyfully ridiculous with that primitive something that lies at the soul of all music. Theirs is an altogether different world, evident upon listening to an early tape of theirs that consists of 30 minutes of laughing, crying, and barfing. “We don’t actually acknowledge any vocal scale,” offers Lexie Mountain (a.k.a. Lexie McMacchi), over dinner at a neighborhood pasta bar in Baltimore.
The group’s first wide release, this month’s Sacred Vacation (Carpark), is not only startlingly listenable in a genuine pop sense, but just damn fun–like, loopy dancing and beach-bonfire fun. It makes you think of the first time you heard Animal Collective–that grin-inducing, head-clearing freedom–or, for that matter, early punk. That’s the kind of freedom that makes Lexie Mountain Boys one of the most legit, truly bold things in experimental music. “We can do whatever we can think of to do,” the lead Lexie says of the music they create from what’s been given to them naturally–voices, feet, and hands.
Sacred Vacation is based on pure improvisation, “the result of a long process of us being together and recognizing the various strains of songs, and finding familiarity [with each other],” McMacchi says. LMB recorded the album in one day in a cavernous old church hall of worn wood floors, boarded stained glass, and crumbling stone walls. The only effect on the record is an acoustic echo with so much history and personality it feels like a member of the band. “We just had confidence in freaking out; we didn’t practice at all before [recording],” she says.
It follows that the shows are uniquely fuck everything experiences, from the “hairy rain-bro” show (painting rainbows on a club’s walls with paint-dipped hair) and the “golden ball” (kicking a gold spray-painted ball for percussion) to human pyramids and surfing (then collapsing) on a dining room table in Boston.
The latter was a total accident, but accidents don’t mean quite the same thing in the Lexie Mountain Boys universe. “[With] every one of our shows, you never really know if it’s going to fall off a deep end,” says McMacchi, listing off a litany of assorted near catastrophes. “If you have a song, it’s never really a failure, unless your equipment fails.”
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