Buffalo’s punk rock/indie group I Can See Mountains has always known how to make some extremely catchy, upbeat punk rock music. Their 2012 effort, Hope You Never Get It, had me hooked upon first listen. It was a release full of catchy hooks, intricate guitar work and fun sing-a-longs. When the band announced they would be releasing their full-length, Life on a Houseboat, digitally on June 11, I was filled with anticipation. I figured this band could only get better, and that is exactly what they did.
The record starts with “One Mirror, Two Bodies,” and you’re instantly sucked into the catchy hooks and melodies that were present on Hope You Never Get It. I noticed the sound was just a progressed, updated version of the one present on their prior release. Song two is the title track, “Life on a Houseboat,” starting with a very rich guitar riff, followed by vocals that could be compared to some bigger indie rock acts. The mixture of punk and indie vocal styles in this song is a very interesting, original take on things. The song also features a huge chorus that will get drilled in your brain. “Sea Legs” was probably my instant favorite on the record. I love the feel in the verses of this song, making use of a more toned-down vocal style backed up by a distant yelling. The song closes with some tasteful group vocals.
By the time “Snake Eater” rolls around, I noticed how diverse these songs were from one another. I also noticed how well I Can See Mountains used their vocal harmonies. “She’s My Bobby Orr” keeps things going strong. The guitar work in this track is extremely enjoyable, and even admirable. “I Play the Fox” may have my favorite vocal work on Life on a Houseboat. It’s just a really fun use of back and forth vocals and harmonies. The chorus is also one of the more memorable ones on the record. “Sweater Science” starts off with a beautiful riff, followed by some group harmonies and pounding drums. I can definitely see this one being a song with great crowd participation. The musicianship in “Sweater Science” is phenomenal.
Track eight, “Campfire Skin (Pt. 2),” has a few parts that reminded me of songs during the early days of Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. I’m not saying the entire song sounds like those two bands, but little parts here and there should remind you of the two if you listen closely enough. “One Big Table” is the ballad of Life on a Houseboat, and a beautiful one at that. The more aggressive vocals that come in later on the first verse are just plain awesome. It’s amazing how I Can See Mountains’ vocalists can adapt to each style of each song. The vocals never sound forced or unnatural throughout the entire record. “Glory” has some of the most catchy drumming on the entire record. The chorus is also an extremely memorable one. It’s another song I could picture a great crowd reaction for. Closing Life on a Houseboat is “The Tigers Have Found Me and I Do Not Care,” starting with some great drums, followed by that intricate guitar work that is spread throughout the entire record. It’s a great album closer that leaves you wanting more and forces you to start the record over for another listen.
Overall this release really surprised me. I expected it to be good, but not this good. Dare I say it’s a flawless indie/punk rock record? I’m willing to bet 2013 will be a good year for I Can See Mountains if the scene knows what’s good for them and catches onto this band. Most bands in the same genre as I Can See Mountains have a gimmick about being sad or alone. It seems I Can See Mountains is just here to get you to sing along and have fun. I cannot wait to see what these guys do for the remainder of the year. Be sure to pick up a physical copy through Panic Records on July 2. You won’t regret it.