Beardfish occupies a genre of resurgent 70s music that as a fanatic of that era, I am more than happy to accept. While my first (And most beloved) exposure to this movement was the Sabbath/Purple/Beatles inspired band Bigelf, Beardfish comes with an equally strange name and a tone befitting of traditional prog like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull.
Mammoth clocks in with 7 tracks totaling 7 minutes, ranging from less than 2 minutes, to more than 15 in length. The overall palette of sounds is a more positive-ish, 70s technical accented in parts, especially And the stone said if I could speak by the saxophone. The organ presence is also obvious and constant, as it should be.
It’s important to remember about Beardfish that they are not mere imitators, and that there is a huge divide between them and simple cover bands. While in particular the presence and use of the organ is reminiscent of an era long past, Beardfish treads grounds that their forefathers did not. The early 70s is more than a technical style guide, and encompasses a certain type of approach. There is a duality of listener engagement with catchy melody that has been grossly absent in music since popular music and more intensive listening music went their separate ways in the 80s. Short of committing blaspheme on the era that was responsible for giants like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, there was quite a bit to be learned in the last 40 years, and Beardfish has not been ignorant. In fact, and I take a great risk of personal standard in saying this, they have in many ways improved on the past, instead of the typical trend of simply rejecting the past in favor of getting something ELSE wrong.
Short of a few remarkable exceptions, many classic albums had heavily flawed songs, or things that in hindsight were mistakes. Black Sabbath recorded “Fluff”, and somewhere along the way, Ian Anderson never got the message that sometimes, true masterpieces took time, choosing instead to crunch out half brilliant albums at a rapid pace that were drowned in the other half of mediocrity and filler. Beardfish, while keeping a steady release schedule (The liner notes actually apologize for the record taking “A bit longer than usual”, which was a 2 year gap from their last release in 2009), manage to put together 7 strong outings in Mammoth.
Beardfish are certainly worthy of the associations that their music suggests, and a healthy reminder that not all good things have to end.
Dagg’s rating: 4.25/5