Label: Parks & Records/Jealous Butcher/PIAPTK Release date: 21/04/09 Website: CarCrashLander's MySpace Buy: Amazon Google informs me that CarCrashLander is the solo project of a man named Cory Gray, who has previously played piano and saxophone in The Dodos and Desert City Soundtrack, amongst others. I am not as familiar with this music scene as I am with home-grown British rock, but my ventures into its realm have been positive in the past. I was looking forward to hearing Mountains On Our Backs. From the word go, I was impressed. Opener 'Mountains On Our Backs' is a semi-improvised, moody rock epic; it starts as it means to go on. It is charged with emotion, but not in the blatant, unyielding way of 'emo', or the over-the-top way of pop balladry: the music is skilful, well-arranged and subtle, with, from what I can hear, nicely pensive lyrics. Unusual distortion and slightly off-kilter chord progressions define this album, and set CarCrashLander apart from the crowd. It sounds like thoughtful noise rock, in the vein of Sonic Youth in their later years. The only complaint I have about this album is this: it never breaks from its lethargic melancholy - it perks up in the brilliant 'Capillary Webs' and 'Quoting Dead Comedians', but still feels slightly sad, maybe thanks to the soft, almost spoken vocals. But sad is not a negative. It works. It sounds like you'd feel if you were sat in thought a thousand miles from home, or watching the world go past from a train, heading towards a new beginning. You get the impression the person making the music is mature, sensitive and knows how he wants everything to sound. Even when tracks wander into improvisational noise, the music has movement, and direction. My favourite tracks are those with a little more oomph, particularly 'Quoting Dead Comedians', 'Capillary Webs', 'Coast To Coast' and 'Bone Noose'. There the music really takes off, fueled by good guitar playing, unusual electronics and energetic drumming. Experimental enough to be different, structured enough to be accessible, this is a compelling, interesting and fulfilling listen, if you're looking for something thought-provoking. Rating: 8/10 MP3: CarCrashLander - Quoting Dead Comedians