Hope – Mountain Men

‘Hope’ is the second-album by Mountain Men. A duo featuring one man on guitar and vocals, and another member playing the harmonica,  I’d argue that Mountain Men are one of the most underrated acts in the world today.  Their country music has such an original slant on it, drawing on all the formalities of country music, but expressed in their own style. What makes Mountain Men’s music so great to listen to is the complete chemistry between its two and only members. Whilst the foreground of the music is occupied by the vocals, it is the instrumentation in the background that makes their music so impressive.

The harmonica playing on each song is at an insanely talented level. It acts like a voice of its own, and accompanies the acoustic riffs perfectly  helping to add a dense layer to each and every song. This was present on the first album ‘Spring Time Coming’, and there was a wonderful mixture  of upbeat songs and more slower songs. It was a highly impressive début album, that seemingly went unnoticed in the musical world.

With ‘Hope’, we see Mountain Men continuing to do what they do best. Their music is still twinged with the dense layers of harmonica, which helps to add so much more emotion to the music. The album feels as though it is split into two parts, with the first half containing more darker and slightly more aggressive songs, and the second half featuring much lighter and delicate songs. There’s a few surprises on this album, including a rather unconventional cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. It is an interesting version, and it is interesting to hear the band putting their unique slant on the song, using their own style to present it in a much different way.

Musically, this album is wonderful. The delicate songs feature beautiful acoustic riffs, accompanied by incredibly impressive harmonica playing. The vocals are as strong as they’ve always been, and in these delicate songs the lyrics are crooned compassionately and emotionally, giving the songs depth and emotion. The harmonica adds to this depth, as like I said, it feels like its own voice in the song, singing its own parts. The harmonica in Mountain Men’s music has always been highly impressive, and it hasn’t faltered for a second on this album.

‘Hope’ is a very impressive second album. From a band who remains relatively unknown, their music is still of such a high quality, with lots of effort being put into the writing, recording and presentation of each song. The band uses their strengths very well on this album, and you can see it in the songs that are the highlights on the album. As it is, I feel that the inclusion of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is an unnecessary one, as whilst it has merit of its own, I feel that it personally draws the listener out of the album due to awareness of the song itself. When the album plays its songs by Mountain Men, it draws you in and you can get lost in the dense layers of harmonica and guitar. I felt that as soon as I heard and recognised Nirvana’s lyrics on the album, that I was drawn out of this immersion quite suddenly. The awareness of the song was too much, and it is a shame because the music Mountain Men write are good enough in their own merit. That being said though the cover is good, don’t get me wrong. In conclusion, I feel that ‘Hope’ is a worthy second album, being every bit as good as ‘Spring Time Coming’. It is a shame with a band so unknown that not enough people know of them, as Mountain Men are a band worthy of recognition.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Imidiouane
  • Before I Sleep
  • Travailler C’est Trop Dur
  • Move Up To The Door
Categories: Albums, Old Album Reviews (2012) | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

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26 thoughts on “Hope – Mountain Men

  1. Catherine

    Un formidable album et un formidable duo à suivre absolument, sur disque et sur scène !

  2. hi,
    i’m iano, the harmonica player.
    thanks very much for your kind words.
    where are based , and how did you find us?
    ps i think you exagerate a little with your praise for the harmonica, but…

    • Hello Iano

      First off, I’m a little stunned that you’ve actually found this review. I thought it was tucked away in the corners of the internet where nobody would bother to come looking!

      I’m based in England, and I found your music quite by accident. I was browsing YouTube videos and came across your performance of ‘She Shines’ Live for Amsterdamn Acoustics. I was blown away by the performance and I instantly had to download the song because of it.

      I hope this review hasn’t offended you in any way, and if so, I apologise.


      PS. Even if you think I exaggerate by saying that, I’m still going to stand by it!

      • g’day gareth,
        it was in fact my parents who passed the link to me…and i see below you’re in contact with my cousin.
        be careful, you’ll soon have the whole bloody family on your back.

        you have me intrigued now with this “live for amsterdamn acoustics”; what is it?
        i am in no way offended by your review, in fact i am very flattered.
        take care, and don’t hesitate to stay in touch.

      • Hello Iano again.

        I think it’s brilliant that your parents found this review. How they did, I do not know, but it means a lot to me that people are finding these somehow.

        I was wrong by the way when I said Amsterdamn Acoustics. It’s a YouTube channel that showcases various bands who preform out in the streets of Amsterdamn. I found your video on Cargovideo on YouTube instead (which linked me onto the other one and so on and so forth).

        You take care also, and good luck with the band. If you were ever in England and I had the money I’d definitely make my way down to see you guys perform!


  3. Shane Marsh

    No-one can hide on the internet, you know: be out and proud!
    Great review, really thoughtful and detailed.

    One litte typo suggestion, or three; remove these apostrophes:
    “it’s two and only members”,
    “like it’s own voice in the song, singing it’s own parts”,
    “plays it’s songs “.

    In “it’s” as an abbreviation of “it is” an apostrophe is appropriate but not in the possessive “its” (exception to the rule).


    • Thanks for the comment! Truth is that I tend to write things quickly without properly proof-reading for grammar and/or spelling mistakes. I’ll rectify this right away and make sure my future reviews have less mistakes.

  4. Steve Dale

    Great to see such immediate reviews and interest Iano.

    Better keep the family thing rolling…evening Shane…and yes, I am also taking note of some things which don’t read quite right. Just constructive criticism Gareth,and I accept that you were motoring on and getting it down with revision to come.

    I think that the Nirvana cover was brave but bloody well done…as you acknowledged toward the end of your notes. I had an interesting moment when playing at a friend’s house,on the walk back from the beach with our dog. He had another friend there, both mid 40’s, and keen on their music. They seemed to be “otherwise engaged” until that track and then, seemed to me to be much more interested in what followed. Perhaps it is that Kath and Kim “…look at moi…” moment…and then people stop to look.

    To my way of thinking it’s a better look than over the top tattoos, overt body piercings or in your face behaviour which often fulfill a similar purpose in getting everyone’s attention….before you settle down to the real stuff and… show us the money! While the inclusion of this track may well yet divide some punters, perhaps just as many will take another look/listen?!

    Still thinking my original musings ring true though…much more gravitas, timbre and flesh than previous stuff, plus nice production…should do well.


    • Hello Steve

      Thanks for the comment. I’m becoming surprised about how much traffic this post has given me. (In one day it gave me 100 views, all mostly from France of course, and now i’m getting comments from Iano and his friends!)

      In my mind, I never expected the reviews to gain such attention, and normally I just tend to sit down, put on the CD and blast out whatever feeling or opinion the music gives me, with little thought for proof-reading. I guess proof-reading never really got hammered into my head at school! Not to say that I’m not going to listen to constructive criticism. Perhaps my next review (though what to review, I do not know…) will prove to be my best written one!

      Thanks again for everything.


  5. Judie Giddey

    Hi Gareth, I’m Ian’s Mum and came across the website on google. Father Jim is always looking at different sites to see what he can find about our son, but this time I was the lucky one. Perhaps this is because we live in Wollongong, Australia and Ian is in France.Thank you for your great review of the Hope album – we think it’s great as well.

    • Dear Judie

      Thanks for the comment, i’ve mentioned it a lot of times here, but it means so much to me that people have actually been reading these reviews. I’m curious to know how exactly this blog can even be found. My girlfriend has tried googling it but to no avail.

      Thanks so much again!


  6. david roman

    Gareth I share your views completely on the review of HOPE My only comments would be that the album (and the boys love) pays homage to the blues in their own”unique” style and yes there are “country elements” infused in the music but to me the roots of what they do are steeped in the blues The Mountain boys are awesome musicians Iano is a good mate of mine and a brilliant (and yes humble) harp player
    I have a specialist music program on air in Sydney Australia the Mystery Train on 2SSRFM 99.7, you can listen live on the web through http://www.2ssr.com.au every tuesday 8-10pm (Sydney time) and on 27th Nov i did a special feature on Hope and had Iano ring me from grenoble in the studio. It was fantastic. WE had listeners all over Australia esp Iano’s family/friends in Wollongong and lots in France too. The audience response to Hope was excellent regards david roman contact: mysterytrain997@gmail.com

    • Dear David.

      I apologise for not replying sooner. I remember being notified about your comment, but I completely forgot about it! I am sorry. I do see what you mean, and apologise for not mentioning the blues elements. When Mountain Men do their third album in the future, I’ll be sure to mention it, unless they change their style! (though I wouldn’t know about these things at all, I’m merely just a fan).

      Anyway, thanks for your comment, and I do hope you enjoyed the review. This one review has given me so much traffic on my blog and has truly inspired me to write better reviews on upcoming albums. Thanks so much, and I hope to hear from you again.

      Gareth Watkin

      • david roman

        keep up the good work Gareth always keen to hear “insightful” reviews of new music rather than the typical “cd press release” formula type regards david

  7. hey gareth,
    i told you you’d end up with the whole bloody family…
    hope things are going well for you.

    • Hello Iano

      It’s actually been a pleasure talking to your whole family. Their response to the review has really spurned me on to continue writing more reviews, and as of today I’ve officially written 50!

      Things are going very well, and I hope they are for you as well. I’m hoping the release of your new album is giving the two of you the attention you both deserve. It is a great record.

      Once again, thanks


  8. hey gareth,
    just thinking – if you’re interested, there’s a live recording at the following address…
    it was a concert for a radio called “sing sing”, near st. malo in north western france.
    it’s cut into 4 (half hour) parts, and though it’s only an mp3, it’s listenable.
    ps the album is going well – we’ve sold between 3 and 4 thousand copies for the moment – many go at the end of gigs.

    • Hello Iano

      Sorry for not replying sooner, had some stuff going on. Thanks for the link though, I’m listening to it right now and already I can tell I’m in for a treat.

      I’m glad to hear the album is going well. I need to do my part and pick up myself a copy (along with the first album), but sadly money doesn’t allow this luxury yet. But one day, I’ll have them on my shelf!


      • gareth send me an address mate, and i’ll see what i can round up for you.

      • I’m not sure what you mean exactly, but you’d understand my concern in posting my address over the internet for everyone to see! (It’s not you, but rather the fact anybody could come onto here and get it. As it is, this particular review gets a lot of spam comments). My e-mail is ghwatkin@gmail.com if that helps you though! Send me an e-mail sometime if it’s at all possible.

        All the best


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    vous me manqué tous les 2 pas de concert sur grenoble avant octobre c’est loin
    et que veut dire LIEU TBA pour les allées chantent ?
    Je ne veux vraiment pas vous manquer

    • salut patricia,
      tba = “to be announced”
      nous ne savons pas où pour l’instant, mais on saura plus proche des dates…
      je peux te dire que c’est sensé d’être en acoustique totale dans des petits lieus devant pas beaucoup monde chaque fois.


        merci pour la réponse je vais veiller de près
        bon été à vous à cet automne
        bisous iano et Mr MAT
        groupie patricia


    HOPE à chaque fois je dis c’est egotistical que je préfère, puis GET IL BACK TO ME, ou NOTHING ZERO NONE finalement je m’arrive pas à me décider je les AIME TOUTE ….

  12. raphael

    I totally agree with you saying this group is underrated. Hope i’ll be able too see them again soon.
    Very accurate review by the way.

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